If not now…

The end of the Summer. I tune in about once a week to national “news’ just to see if anything has changed. Nope. Name of current outrage changes and noise level of outrage comes and goes but the feeling stays permanently in the air.

Those feelings are a cover-up. Like a tantrum is a cover=up.

Tantrums aren’t the “feeling”; tantrums are the “feeling” asking for help.

The language for asking is not available to the person “throwing” the tantrum or so it seems to observers who also don’t have a language to deeply understand what is going on. Inchoate fear and anxiety express themselves simultaneously as some means of communicating this to someone, anyone. Asking for help.

This is happening to us as a culture, society and nation. If we can look closely and observe without too much judgement we may be able to see a phenomena that is very human historically, but can’t be faced squarely in modern times because we have too much fresh baggage on our train of intellectual-consumer culture, to state the problem succinctly.

Suffering exists!

After WWII, the complete befuddlement of the intelligentsia, psychology and philosophy was on display and is still responsible for most of published material and 93.83% of all social/political punditry. They acted befuddled by Nazi Germany’s arising. “The nation of Schiller and Goethe”, as if that actually has any relevance or meaning. Trying to figure out the horrors that Japan was capable off; (all that Sword & Chrysanthemum cultural bifurcation folderol.), “They seem so gentle and polite?”. 

We are human. Deluded. In-dividually, in-family, nationality, ethnically, racially, linguistically, gender I.D-lly. Blah, blah, blah… All of us.

Today we have at hand, I mean right in front of us especially if we look into a mirror; an opportunity to examine and look at thoroughly, investigate and most importantly, begin a reasonable-national discussion about the basic problem. It’s time we stopped rationalizing and try to become Reason Able.

We can examine it! We have the tools and the ability and we could move forward. I’m guessing we may not, but we could.

Everybody feels they not only have a right but a duty, even a responsibility, to be offended by just about anything and also get angry about it, so opportunities and chances are shrinking.

Poor little U.N. They actually made difference and they still do, but can’t much longer, because the Bullies, the Wienies, the Punks and Third-class Mopes seem to be in the ascendant in many nations.

I saw on the Evening News, that Science says, in next Century there will be as many forty days each year over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Baloney! That’s going to happen by 2030!

The next Century is inconceivable from any human experience of the past. We can’t picture or model it because we haven’t had this experience as humans as to what will actually happen to the planet.

Anywhooo, to my point. It seems that a bunch of the elite actually think there will a future in space, or Mars, or wherever-the-f….

What they don’t seem to know and can’t do anything about when they plan that stuff, is the simple fact that they’ll need people to be complicit with them to make sure they get out un-scathed, (but with their favorite things (presumably money:) and get to wherever they are going; and then those same people will set up a bunch of infrastructure for everybody to live in the same basic order and social strata they left smoldering behind.

That’s not gonna happen, because historically the people with the sword and spears will figure out they are the ones with a real power.* A rule that seems to be sort of true is that the person with the least invested in any relationship has the most power. Time for a movie about that! So the “left-behinds” can at least vicariously enjoy their descendants triumph. Where’s Dr. Strangelove? He’s back in style.

Dreams, delusions, hopes and wishes;

All the same cloth, dyed differently to

Please the dreamer, deluded, hoper and

Wisher. Which are we, who are us; All

Those too busy with distraction too Stop,

Look and See, Hear and Listen or just Be.

 

*See: Praetorian Guard

Whither the whisssper….

My plate is full. It’s a paper plate and loaded with soggy stuff and I lost my spork.

Waste not want not. I waste myself in fruitless wanting and wishing, even though I tell myself my wants and wishes are more refined than they used to be. You know, mostly spiritual; but they are not spiritual, because they are still wants and wishes disguised as needs.

At some level I’m quite content, at some others I squirm with neediness and wanting.

I want to be content being alone, but I want the contentment to feel good. A notch above regular old contentment. Whatever that is. I do know it’s available, at various times I’ve been that way. But now I’m not.

And, when I’m not content I think it is not available. I do notice that if I sit down facing a wall and allow myself to just be in this world for a few minutes, my discontent goes away and then then I’m content? Vexing. More will be revealed. No doubt.

I sit and look 

At myself, and

When I see no

Thing, there is a

Peace and quiet that

Tells me all is well.

In lessss than a whisper.

 

Real, live, refuge…

So, on my walk this evening I was, as usual it seems a bit crabby, whiney and snivelly with myself and sort of complaining about aging, yearning, wanting friendships, being useful, losing interest in everything, yada-yada-yada-yaaah. On and on! And, during this little pity-pot-ensconcement ( I write, and I make ’em up:), I ran across a thought that had been eluding me.

It was in reference to some conversations I had with friends as recently as today, from a past that was a completely different life than the one I’m in now.. They both know me very differently than anyone else I know or am friends with today; because they have seen me at my worst. Today when we talk we just compare old coot kind of problems, and in both cases my two friends hate their lives and growing old. Also, in both cases they have no spiritual belief, or active component thereof in their lives. One is very rich, and alone and worried even though he has lots of everything. Everything, he’s ever wanted. The other is broke and doesn’t worry about it but he doesn’t worry with a lot of vigor, you know kinda assertive about the no worry. Like an echo chamber effect when he tells me he doesn’t worry. Always sounds empty. I love these guys and both have or helped save my life, but I wouldn’t want to trade any aspect of our various lives, they both have very enviable and positive qualities, but…

Here’s what I realized during my walk. We are three older guys who have lived through some very rough and dangerous lives, can still talk about it, in one case maybe a little too much; and resent that the world is not exactly the we way want it to be.

Of the three of us, as far as I can tell, I am the most fortunate because I have a real, live refuge that I can access anytime, anywhere; and can experience a relieving and easing of my fears, doubts and worries.

I have those fears doubts and worries because I earned them the hard way through a reckless, careless approach to life in the past. Now, because I found a refuge (For the record: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), and accept full spiritual responsibility for my past, I can get a measure of relief and sometimes, a sense of a deep contrition that may be the key to everything. Every thing.

Within my gripes, doubts, fears and worries there is medicine for what truly ails me.

Me.

I am the problem and the solution.

I just have to find the courage to see the one and seek the other.

Decisive sum total…

One way that I can take fuller responsibility for my life, my past and my present is to acknowledge the fact that the being who is sitting here writing this, is the composite total of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life. My decisions. My life.

There’s no way around that. I’ve tried. What about all that stuff that just happened in my life; that I had no control over? That just happens?

Nothing “just happens”. Everything has a cause and there is an effect or consequence for every cause. Inescapable. Action results in a consequence. Actions of thought, speech and body. Everything we do produces a consequence. Our intentions may be good, but the consequence is bad. Our intention may be bad but the result primarily, or secondarily, is good and everything in between.

We are now living in a world of consequences that are the results of many people agreeing that certain actions were good to do at some time in the past. That we could not foresee the future result of our actions does not erase the consequence.

Good for everybody. Good for the company. Good for the country, the team, the group, the farm the town, the family, the kids, dogs and cats…Blah, blah, blah…

And now we say, WTF?…Who started all this mess?…They did it!!

No! We did it.

We set things in motion and when there are consequences we feel that those are disconnected from out original plans, schemes and designs, and especially intentions.

That’s why I say we are the result of choices we have made throughout our lives, but we’d rather not acknowledge that our poor choices (decisions), in life put us where we are today. And, our good choices and decisions also put us into the life we live. The hard part is being honest about our recollection regarding our motives and intentions when we set stuff in motion.

So, how does that bit of news become an actionable aspect of our spiritual and mundane lives?

It allows us to have perspective on how we fit into this design or constant flow.

A friend of mine calls the law of karma a form of original sin. That’s like saying the law of gravity is like original sin because it restricts out ability to just fly whenever we want to. Not quite.

The law of gravity is a teacher. BTW, no one in any science knows what gravity is. They know how it behaves and its effects, but they don’t know what it is. Magnetic force   describes what it does but not what makes it be the way it is. The same is true of regular glass, to call it anomalous liquid is a description of some behaviors and properties but doesn’t actually say what it is in relation to everything else. There are huge mysteries in the everyday, yet we feel we need to know whether the universe is actually expanding, and if so, is it at the rate currently popular most circles? I know, different branches of enquiry, but…

The behavior of gravity compels us to pay attention to what it does. I’m careful going down the stairs and I don’t step off a two (or one), story roof. The behaviour of karma is similar in a sense. It may be too complex to diagram just how it works, collects and distributes; but I can see, if I look carefully, when I set anything in motion there is a result/consequence. I should therefore bring a heightened awareness when setting things in motion. Actually that’s not a bad description of Buddhist practice.

So, I’m still having to see the past things I’ve set into motion producing consequence in my current life and I have to see the patterns wherein I can help actively and those where I can stay still, and just observe and see the rising and falling of things.

The universe doesn’t sit on my shoulders, but I do have shoulders. Heck, there’s probably a mini-religion based on that concept(?).

So, if there is any point or purpose to the above it probably has to do with everything is in flux and we can participate because it is a flow. Not chaos. To participate is to ease the flowing by creating less impediments (negative karma created by flawed views of reality).

A paraphrase of Nagarajuna, sent to me some years ago by a monk friend/teacher out of compassion for my confusion at that time (my wife’s dying), was this…

“Everyone dislikes suffering, yet fools that we are, we rush towards its source.”

 

The listening machine…

Its become a bit of a custom to walk around the cemetery here in Walla Walla most days and babble into a small recording device. I actually have babbles from almost ten years ago walking around Tekoa Cemetery. It’s been very instructive because all that talking was nibbling at the edges of the same Koan of insecurity that has been ripening and unfolding for me, now blossoming, in a very deliberate way. And, it’s quite uncomfortable. I know pretty soon (September?), I’m going to need to do a small private retreat somewhere really quiet and just allow some time for non-judging, just looking at this very old structure of my insecurities that are just showing up. Like blowing sands in a desert uncovering a shrine that once was sacredly used but fell into disuse and then, became visible again. Perhaps to be re-purposed, as they say.

The use of the babble is that I have no expectation of anyone ever listening to it.                  It’s not super private or anything but it does reveal the slow appearance of an insight.

What it really shows, I think, is that we are all instruments for our own awakening and nothing is ever wasted or too late or not perfect for the moment. Since the babble is not for consumption as such, its a bit more introspective than if produced for the audience of another person. It slowly touches on, and then begins to embrace, the difficult karma that has been so shy. like a lost dog overcoming caution and fear in favor of the food being offered by the kindly voice.

As an old AA friend used to say about the 12 Steps. (And is true of all spiritual effort.)

“It’s a process, not an event!”

Amen.

The Universe is as…

The Universe is as the boundless sky,

As Lotus blossoms above unclean water,

Pure and beyond the world, is

The Buddha Nature of the trainee.

Oh, Holy Buddha we take refuge in Thee.

The above is a version of the Meal-ending verse that I learned through the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, the organization that I’ve been training with for about thirty years and as a member of since ’97. We practice Soto Zen (Serene Reflection Meditation), in the lineage of Dogen and Keizan. I like to think I’m a reasonably good trainee in that I seem to persist in the practice and generally have the Teachings inform my everyday life. Except for those times that I make the decision to take the karmic hit (consequences), when I deliberately stray from the 16 Precepts which I formally took in ’92. Or, just go SPLAT, and then see that there will be consequences.

So, life has been very good for me because I have a basket into which I can put my “troubles” and then do the sometimes very hard work of just abiding within the conditions of my life, and try my best to view everything as a teaching for my own good. Reverend Master Jisho Perry has a line from the teachings that he offers in some of his Dharma talks. Most people just know the first two lines, which are true; but it’s the last two that make it Truer.

“Sometimes I raise the eyebrows of Shakyamuni (the Buddha),

and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes it is good to do,

and sometimes it isn’t.”

Which, among other things; can mean that it is always good to act like a Buddha, but sometimes, because of that moment’s conditions and elements, we should look twice or more deeply at what is really being called for in the given situation.

Spontaneity is not all that it is cracked up to be. Neither is intuition. Especially where the Self nudges its way into the picture.

This morning as I was finishing a well prepared, simple and late breakfast and reading a bit from Andre Iguodala’s recently published “Sixth Man”, a book about his life as an NBA player; I was having one of those “little moments” where it was not a matter that I liked how I felt about my conditions, and the life I’ve lived; but merely that everything as constituted right now, is perfect and cannot ever be any other way.

I am usually the interjection into this perfection. And, that too is O.K. …Here’s what popped out of my mouth, as best as I can remember, ’cause I said it so quick.

In a torrent. Torrent’s are good at times.

Thank you for the food, its spices and butter and skillet and jam; this plate this spoon this chair this cup my life my worry my doubt and joy and this table and chair and back and feet, all this and my life and friends and all that is given too This. Oh, holy Buddha I take refuge in thee.

Tomorrow, probably some snivel or doubt or worry or some thing. No problem, I’ve been there; and I’ve been Here.

Prometheus mewling…

Sometimes a man’s gotta do what man’s gotta do. 

So, getting over a kittenish mewling session after a friend of the female persuasion, didn’t respond in a timely fashion to some super-dynamite babble I had sent in the texting form (always while complaining in the texting form, that I hate texting because it stifles my natural freedom of artistic expression in ways that the mere mortal cannot hope to comprehend:( ?), and I got worried that I wasn’t liked, for sure mis-understood, after all not everybody “gets” me, and had been abandoned and left to die on a cliff face while carrion-birds were doing their C-B thing on my liver and sweetbreads. All that after a full day of uphill Rock n’ Roll (not as glamorous as it sounds to the non-martyr).

Also, I was worried because this friend had a Summac-rash on her fore-arms (the part just after the wrist and before elbow), that I imagined had probably been mis-diagnosed by her and that she was in a hospital and I would never hear about her dying in agony from flesh-eating bacterialistic-virii 🙂 (smiley face for invented word not agonal etc:), while I was suffering from neglect by her unintended and unforeseen (one could only hope), death. (That sentence may need a little work. I’ll get back to it, for sur

Some people only think of themselves when consumed by B-V. Maybe its natural?          There are a lot of selfish people out there who can only think of themselves, not mentioning any names, because I am, above all, a gentleman of the Olde-School.

Anyhoo, I had a problem on my rig that required me to get under the hood and get some grease on my hands and draw some knuckle-blood. After only four or five hours, I had changed out the lamps in my headlights (“Man, that’s confusing enough to “f…” up an iron ball.”, as we say down to the garage).                                                                                                   One day I may take on the muffler-bearings the seasonal mechanic did for me last year, when their tune-up time rolls around in October. This fellow comes through seasonally, I was told by him, so perhaps I’d better wait for his notification of when tune-up of afore-mentioned muffler-bearings comes ’round, because I did pay three years in advance to qualify for the “Trio-Discount on M-B Tune-up”.

I was going to include some shots of my “mitts” and let you see the grease on them, but it just sort of went away on the paper napkin I used at lunch. Oh, well. Must soldier on. 

Sometimes when the big Heartaches, Abandonments and Potential B-V Deaths threaten or loom; a real guy (A Guy’s guy, but you know not That way), will find some manly endeavor to take his mind off his need to be chin-scratched and fussed.

Whose the nice little Helmut?

Yes! Who’s the big truck fixer? 

That’s right?  It’s you!!! 

Wabble dee, babble dee, cootchie-cooo!!!!!

Yay!!!!