karma, def…

I was having a conversation with someone this past weekend and was surprised again at the truth of the old saying. “When you presume, you make a ‘pre’ out of ‘su’ and ‘me’…or something like that.
Anyway, I had assumed (Oh, that’s it!), that this person understood some basic aspects of Buddhism, like karma. My presumption was based on the fact that they had studied at a Buddhisty school in Colorado. Apparently basic Buddhism was not part of requirement to attend (1st presumption), so they hadn’t a clue as to what Karma was; the general misunderstanding that’s current in the West, is thinking that it is a sort of fate or destiny.
I tried explaining (probably ‘mansplainin’), that the word Karma has a sense of “action” or volition to it, and that all Karma produces an effect or consequence. In other words, everything we do, say, or even think intentionally, has a consequence somewhere.
And, that all karma is reaped through feeling alone.
So, in that sense it is an actually useful/helpful way for us to learn how to behave with fewer consequences, through reduction of unhelpful actions on our part.
It’s really quite simple. Except for the fact that this simple teaching has to be learned and apprehended by us humans (we who come pre-packaged and pre-disposed to act on feelings), often with only a small dose of reasoning as input. Lots of rationalizing though.
As I was driving through the Blue Mountain early Sunday morning, I was thinking about that presumption of mine and some of the aspects of karma, and the teachings that it flows from.
We are born un-sinful, mostly pure; but, contain some karma that has been left over from some previous time. Good karma and bad karma are usually bundled in some fashion into every birth, so we have tendencies and proclivities from day one. After age 5-7, we become further formed by school, environment, family, culture and society so that we start adding more karma to the mix we came with and this process continues. At death a remix occurs to be distributed onward to other beings. From a Buddhist point of view, a life that is lived more harmoniously, equanimously, and easily with other beings and the world, leaves less karma that will need future help ‘downstream’.
Most of us are just slightly aware of this and live life at the expense of others and the world. So, we grow older and crabbier, and more confused, sometimes ungraciously; because we haven’t been able to see past our own noses. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just an unexamined thing. Human.
So, we may die in distress and wish it were otherwise, or had been otherwise, etc:
To get back to the Blue Mountains.
7:00-ish is beautiful and all was at peace. The reality is that all of that beauty may be converted to ash by the time the rainy season starts. Now that’s always been the reality. but now we can sense the higher probability of that happening. We accept the fact that we are personally dying and life gets more difficult as we age, that has its own difficulty.
But, how do young healthy people accept the fact that they will die young and uncomfortably, because of the carelessness of those that came before them? It wasn’t done on purpose, it was just a build-up of un-examined actions and un-intended consequences and the delusions that motivate most of us. All build-ups are composed of small, seemingly insignificant things being added to the pile of whatever
We are dealing in widespread consequence of greed and selfishness, and most of that was wrapped up in good intentions. It’s the stuff of Shakespear, but we’re all in this particular tragedy set in motion by the various greeds.
In the meantime, we all still have the same options before us, how can we actually help the situation. Like someone said. It ain’t over ’til its over.

 

and, it is never too late to
accept and let down the
fence around the heart
how can any one help
any one can start now
i want to start here,
now flows thru it

Prisoners of our minds…

I went to the Washington State Prison yesterday for one of two annual events that a local meditation group set into motion some years ago, along with bi-weekly meditation sort of get-togethers for five different groups of prisoners. The two annual events are called Buddha Day and sort of celebrate Buddhism and its Founder (Year 2563, in Buddha Calendar),  with the prisoners. There is a larger Celebration in May and a smaller one for another “side” of the Prison, which was yesterday.

There were 15 prisoners, four guards and their Sgt., as well as one of the Prison Asst. Chaplains present, as well as the main volunteer of the local group and myself. Lunch was served, chicken with all the trimmings , as well as with two vegetarian options and chocolate ice cream for dessert. Really good food and lots of it, and not the usual fare the prisoners ordinarily get, but sort of a gourmet offering because the volunteer paid for it and the kitchen went off-menu a tad.

We had two shortish talks on Buddhism and a longer discussion/question period. It went well and we had great participation, good comments and questions. The Prison staff were great in their helpfulness and the Chaplain was very respectful and took  pictures of all attending, individually with the “presenters”, so attendees could share with families, etc: Nice touch!

My part was a role as a teacher in the sense that many very basic Buddhist teachings are rarely given in those settings, simply because of attendance variability along with interest variability. Those two factors are very much contingent, and central, aspects of general prison culture, in that groups of “associates” are always open to an opportunity to get together in a variety of settings that may not actually be of interest to most of them.

There are various efforts being made so that the groups get smaller because then they will be more focused on actual religious practice and teaching rather than social time amongst people with other agendas. It will be interesting to see how this little experiment works out. As in all group endeavors there are differences of opinion about all of it, every which way.

Personally I’m struck by the fact of the rigors of prison life and with the variety of social and mental conditions, how many of the basic Buddhist teachings are readily apparent as being of practical use to the inmates. I tried both days to stress that Buddhism is mostly an experiential process, because one has to engage on many levels with changing how one relates to oneself and how one does things; how one relates to others and how one does that; how one relates to the things (objects as well as situations), in one’s life and how one does that.

And, we begin that willingness to change by looking at how we currently do all that; and that meditation is one way to get different perspective on ourselves, through ourselves. The next part is often, what do we, practically do, to effect afore-referenced change of view?   And for that, the Buddha and his followers have passed down the Eightfold Noble Path and all the Precepts that are practical and actionable guides to actual conduct, behaviors and deportment.

I can remember that “Deportment” was on the back of my Elementary School Report Cards as a category of gradation within “Behaviour”. I always did very poorly in all those along with scholastic achievement. I was well rounded throughout my turbulent school career. In English too. Huh?

Anyway, It was wonderful to deepen some acquaintances and friendships and start others, while simultaneously challenging my own training and practice by doing my best to adhere to what the Buddha taught in all of this endeavor and, to be willing to be wrong and perhaps learn more. I’m sure I’ll revisit this. Future time.

Raucous definition…

 

It’s been some months since I posted anything and there doesn’t seem to be a hole or tear (as in Tare not Teer), in the Universal Fabric as a result. That’s comforting. One less thing to worry about. I’ve been debating whether or not to continue with this drivel for a long time (years and yet persist), since there doesn’t seem to be much need, use or reason for doing this.

I’ve spent a few weeks doing voice recordings on my walks or long drives, but that also seems rather pointless, why and for who?

I suppose at some level it satisfies or addresses in some fashion some personal karma/drive to “express” myself, but to what end?

I enjoy reading what others have written and at some point I must have gotten a notion that what I write might be of interest, amusing, informative, mildly thought provoking or funny, or perhaps an oblique view of some small aspects of life that arise. 

I like talking to people more than listening, but I am a good listener when I think the situation warrants it. And, that may be the crux of my quandrina (tiny quandry), about why, and for what reason does one talk or write. I know to communicate: but why? My experience and observation is that most “communication’ is unnecessary, purely self-serving (double-down on unnecessary), and mostly a waste of time. For sender and receiver.

Let’s talk about Politics. The Climate? Reality? Weather? Whether? Or not? Where does it end? No Where, that’s where. 

So, having babbled all that I decided to renew my WordPress do-hickey for another year. Apparently I have money to waste. Who knew?

I have had a few interesting months though, I think. Therefore, I am going to tell you that I may be growing up a bit and and getting past some landscape that’s been my horizon for a long time. I may, in a small way, be wising-up to reality. And, it’s not all that comforting, but it is less draining than wishing, hoping, yearning and wondering.

Just for today, my reality is that everything in this world, as constituted is O.K. just the way that it is. 

Nothing is fixed. 

Nothing is permanent

Every Thing will Become.

No Thing Dies or Stays.

But, there is a lone turkey 

Mother in the field with her 

Chicks about three days old.

A rabbit I rescued Easter

Morning and the raucous 

Magpies and Super loud

Quail getting through 

Their day, communicating

Something, to some

Body.

Some 

Where.