Wine of Delusion…

Through much of the Buddhist world, practitioners of its’ teachings take a series of guidelines for the conduct of their daily lives called “The Precepts”. They are not a big deal in an astounding amount of  Buddhism in the West (The Americas), because we don’t like ‘rules’. Several other teachings that are at the core of Buddhism are also ignored or hushed up because so much of Buddhist teaching has been ‘improved’ and ‘made more accessible’ to the western mind/psyche by our Base Religion of Therapy/Psychology. (Mandatory disclaimer coming up.)…Of course Therapy and Psychology help an astounding number of people with problems they (the number of people), can’t quite describe or put their finger on, so to speak.

Whoops, digression zone ends in several inches, with any luck………here.

So, the Precepts that are commonly taken by Buddhist lay practitioners (non-monastics), throughout much of the Buddhist World are typically called ‘The Five Precepts’.

  1. Refrain from the taking of life.
  2. Refrain from taking that which is not given.
  3. Refrain from saying that which is untrue.
  4. Refrain from indulging mere desires.
  5. Refrain from using, selling or causing others to use the Wine of Delusion.
    (The refraining concedes that we are human and will at least try.)

# Five, at its most coarse level reminds us that alcohol and drugs distract us from our natural minds and we can’t think clearly when under their influence. At a bit more subtle level we also can’t think clearly when we have strong opinions, or strong beliefs, or varying degrees of certainty about any personal mixture of ideas regarding life, society, science, politics, religion, morals, behaviors, etc. And, when we want to talk to other people about our ideas etc; and convince them they are missing something in their views and ideas; And we can help point out those shortcomings etc. AND, Yes you are welcome.

Most standard conversations whether in a bar, at an event, in church, over family dinner being consumed on the ride home from a long day of family stuff, are variations of consuming, selling, encouraging others to imbibe our own delusive ideas about reality and join us; as we join others in their views of Life and its little Realities.

All news, all TV, all reporting, all discussion in public spheres, all opining, all insights and for sure all Expert Views are absolutely wines of delusion; Because they decrease clarity and fix our minds and hearts into a Certainty, of some sort And, then we are off to the races.This is the condition that makes us human and worrisome and wonderful as a life form.

So, there’s no way any of this is going to change measurably for quite some time is my guess. But, and this is a But and an AND, we can, each of us, cut back just a little from the habits/addictions to using of the wine of delusion, and maybe refraining just a tad when we want to convince others, or ourselves, about some insistence regarding some thing that we believe to be true. Just cut back a little.

Ease on up.

Relax once or twice a day and not indulge ourselves in the stuff that we know to be True. Let’s just keep it to ourselves, once in a while on most days. Gotta start somewhere.

I’m going to start my little effort at the end of this sentence. I am too!

A telephone call…

Not zoom, not skype, neither e-mail nor messenger, no text or instagram. One voice to another.

A friend who is having some personal difficulties, many centered around Communication and Housing and Money, the Big Three, which can get out of ‘hand’ in our minds rather quickly; especially for those of us who have had the experience of coming back to life from a seemingly hopeless condition. We can quite easily go from a smallish array of conventional problems to full-blown CatAstROpHiC tHinKinG!!! in literally, a heart-beat. Never fun.

So, I called and we spoke for a few minutes and all I said was essentially the kind of thing we can say when we are not in a situation and have a small clarity about it, i.e. at a bit of a remove…As we closed the shortish conversation with arrangement for Pizza and a Coke (Ancient Universal Remedy) tomorrow, I was quite elated as I hung up. And then…

I realized, that all the things I said were exactly what I personally needed to hear for the enclosed and troubled feeling I had been having on and off for the past period of time, you know The Situations, and couldn’t find perspective for.

Voice to voice conversation is the Chamomile Tea of modern human communication, because its real, nuance and voice reveal more than face and waving of arms (I learned to speak American in NYC as a young boy of nine), when words are the important thing.

So, once again I re-find a small truth. I wanted to say something helpful and perhaps reassuring to a friend in discomfort, not crisis, and that intention had an effect on me too, because it was based on the sense of trying to be compassionate (which we all do, so very naturally) outwardly and seeing that compassion flows to where it is useful.

In other words, it flows in all directions. We can’t aim it. Not if it’s real. There is no exclusion, all we can do is offer; and then be surprised at times when we get ‘splashed’ too.

 

I watered in the garden today

The weeds were happy too, so

Why not, also me and you?

HWMPOK…

Half-Way on Middle-Path is O.K.

I look back and think my, my, my;

Look at you, came that long way.

But, but I didn’t act quite right

Today. No problem look ahead

Not away, you’re gone, just not

There. Stepping through the gate

Of a one-thin-little-string fence that

Circles this World is not really

That great an accomplishment.

Just go and keep on keepin’ on.

A glance back and a look up and,

Here I am all over again. Bird

Whistle lost in the wind. 

three o’clock blues…

I’ve heard a lot about the value and power of self-examination. Of looking at one’s self (atonement) and one’s actions, motives and results thereof. Sometimes that happens at 3:00 a.m. in the wee, small hours of the morning (Good song title in there somewhere, eh?). What occurred to me this morning was the wonder and power of realizing that one comes into this world alone, and leaves it alone.

A major difference between looking and seeing is this. Looking has a seeking aspect to it, hence a hint of desperation. Seeing is the state of mind after the hunt and the meal. Self-examination partakes of becoming aware of the transitions between seeking and satiety, wanting and sufficiency; and the inevitable recurrence of that cycle. My observation is that in the sufficiency there is time to reflect and weigh what the examination has revealed.

Three o’clock in the a.m. seems to be an optimal time to get a reasonable perspective on ones life as it has been lived, not dreamt about or explained away. This morning’s conclusion is that this little being came into the world to do its best with what it had and the power to care, or not; to create or to destroy; to help or to distain. To look up or to look down. To give or take.

It turns out that it will always be a mix of some sort, but the main part is the give and the take. To offer and to accept. To breathe in and breathe out.

We have a sense that breathing is something we control and to a degree we do; but all those breaths all those heartbeats are accomplished because the mechanism, within which we seemingly dwell, does them following  laws of physics, air pressure, chemistry, hydraulics etc: However there is a part that follows no measurable law of the Universe and that is our choice, our volitional decision. Our choice in how we spend our time and expend our energy which is after all, finite.
Looking is practical. Seeing is a choice.

I choose to see that yes, I am alone but since this aloneness has choices, I can breathe deeply, I can be still and my heart rate drops and I can be All One.                                      The choice of no choice, it is how things are…

At Three-fifteen the birds

Start up expressing their

Heart’s desire to be alive

Alone and at One.

When you’re coasting…

I’m not sure what the exact physics behind coasting is but I can observe that a skateboard is essentially based on coasting.

Effort is made to move and then build up speed and then at some point one can coast, and if it’s a steep downhill the coast is pretty exiting and a paved drop of a few feet over a mile distance can be nice glide. One has to be going downhill to coast.

All of the latest out-pourings of discontent is a natural result of deeply rooted problems that have never been squarely faced, we all seem to agree on that. There is also general agreement that this is a time to face those problems because, Now is The Time.              That Now, was a ‘Now’ not too long ago.                                                                                          Not too long before that was another ‘Now’ and here we Are. And it’s now-time, again.

My reading of history and my observation of the world, people, politics, economy, religion and, most importantly, myself; leads to the conclusion there will be a variety of good ideas that will fall apart because there will be the inevitable clash for primacy between Good Ideas and it will all shrivel up and wither away. I know that sounds kind of negative but that’s my observation of how things often play out.                                  Right now people are fired up, and any fire that’s ever started cannot be guaranteed to stay controlled. How many house burn down every year because the fireplace and the stove didn’t contain the fire? More than a few. Back-fires anyone?

The Truth always holds negatives and positives and they shift before our very eyes because as our eyes that do the seeing, our brains and opinions do the interpreting.   “And. They’re off!” As they say at the start of a horse race.                                                              That’s one description of karma and how it runs our lives and informs our futures. We act on opinions and ideas and habits and we become passionate about them because we assign positive and negative through our personal judgments.

We are the problem. We All are the problem. We, as individuals, are the problem. I am the problem. You are the problem. Which of those problems do I have the best chance of actually correcting or improving?

I am the only person I can change and because that’s difficult and takes time and effort,   I will join up with one or two, or a million, others and try to change you, and if you are resistant to me/us changing all of you Others, the difficulty is exacerbated.

There is no way around this, we are the solution to our main problem, individually.    And yes, we can help each other and we must; in order to progress. At some point we have to get off the streets and off our strongly held views and come home sit down examine how we can be kinder, minute by minute, coming and going, in and out of our ‘doors’.

We have, as a culture, as a set of societal, political, economic, educational, ecological and spiritual systems been coasting for a long time.

Maybe we can get off the skateboard and walk a while and see what we can see. Life is not about the ride. There’s more going on than speed, exhilaration and long coasting.

If its easy to do, it can be a joy

When its hard to do, it

Probably needs to be done.

No actual “sides”…

A message sent to a Oakland PD officer, whose a friend, now at a distance. I was just getting in touch while a confrontation between police and protesters was on TV, and the sad inchoate tensions that were on display for too many reasons to understand, prompted me to send a note.His response was perfect and gave me a joy…first a portion of the note I sent him.

“I hope all is well with you…I just bumped into the messenger thingie and saw your name. So, after just going through Facebook stuff, there sure are a lot of good hearted-well-intentioned folks out there getting themselves all shook up about a lot of variations of injustice and the-world-is fucked-up conversations. A lot of those conversations are about compassion and loving each other and all that, actually good stuff; but I think most people can’t accept the fact that the world, as constituted is neither fair, nor just, and neither evil nor ill-intentioned. The world is what it is. Everybody, for the most part gets up in the morning with basically good hearts and intentions and yet huge mistakes are made. My own experience, vast, in mistake making; is that none of them were ever really planned, they seemed to form without my awareness and suddenly there I was…                                                                                                                      

So, the point: I assume your job has always been a difficult one, within our world of recovery in the midst of life we do have tools; even so it’s hard to bear sometimes. I just want to say you have my deep gratitude for the work you do and did and that the world is in fact a better place because police officers do commit to helping, and helping in circumstances that most people only encounter once or twice in their lives if at all. Take heart and know that you and your fellow officers are appreciated, and its difficult to respond to the world as constituted, for everyone. Another life lost, during protest for a life lost. When will we learn? We will, it is just going to take a long time when ruled by circumstance. Best wishes, friend.”

Then his response…

“…I’ve been trying to practice meditation and keep calm during the extreme chaos and confusion. I know in my heart I am a peaceful person and the ones that yell at me, throwing rocks, bottles and hurl molotov cocktails at me dont know me, and don’t know my heart… so I put my shield down and meditate. That’s my only solution…. This too shall pass Helmut …”

There are no actual sides. Just human predicaments and a huge variety of choices in response. I liked this choice and I hope I can do the same in all conditions.

The Kesa Verse;  (Recited at the end of the first meditation of the Day)

How great and wondrous are the

Clothes of enlightenment,

Formless and embracing every

Treasure; I wish to unfold the

Buddha’s teaching that I may

Help all living things

 

 

 

 

Never metaphor I…

In my experience and a degree of observation within myself and of others, it seems we try to express ourselves when  speaking about anger by attempting to access cultural and social beliefs as the basic ground for the explanation to the predicament of hate and anger. Actually trying to rationalize our anger/hate into a reasonable position. That is a major aspect of delusion itself; constructing a story within and outside ourselves that finds context as an excuse for our anger/hate.

“If only he, she or they weren’t so…I wouldn’t have too feel this way, etc. “If things were more the way I want them to be, or as they should be, I wouldn’t be so angry.”

To me that’s a good beginning towards easing the justifiable grip of anger, because those are just stories we can become aware of, through the process of sitting still and observing this little ‘Trickster’ we call our mind.

In many of the cultures of our Native population there was the story of the Coyote or Fox who made us see and think things that were not true, tricking us into foolish behaviors. Probably just a way for a Nature-immersed society to formulate aspects of what our own mechanistic society developed as Philosophy/Psychology. One way to subdue this Trickster was to partake in ritual and seeking through a Spirit Quest.

Isn’t that what we are doing in our practice? Trying through the practice of teachings and meditation to be able to see the Trickster for who it is? It is difficult, because it is us!(Appreciative nod to Walt Kelly and his famous ’72 ‘Pogo’ cartoon referencing the ecological disasters becoming visibly evident at that time).

So have we littered and carelessly maintained the landscape within us. The solution to the litter is to see what’s there, how it got there, how to begin cleaning it up and how to create less of it.                                                                                                                                     All of that takes caring. Caring is another word for Compassion without extra emotionalism and more actual understanding, without judgement or an assigning of blame.

The really hard part is to accept responsibility and then go slowly, with deliberation, towards a solution without going astray towards blame and judgement…

Always, we seem to come back to trying to be still. Within and without.

So it seems we have to deal with anger and hate by first mitigating the story of how understandable and relatable our angers and hates are, because misery does love company.

My difficulty has always been the deep love and belief of my story, about me, told too me, in my favorite voice in the world, my own. No wonder it’s seductive; It is completely me. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what.

To loosen the grip on my self, first requires a good look at my life’s actual environment and then find the space and time to deliberately engage in being physically still enough and begin to see my thoughts and feelings over time as they come and go, they come and, they go.                                                                                                                                               And, once I can be comfortable with that, I can begin a slow, again deliberate, looking into the process and, the content of it.

That is one way we can help convert our anger and our hatred from the solidity and fixedness of hurricane and tempest into puffs, whisps and sometimes puffy clouds of emotional weather events that appear and change and go on and will re-appear.

Over a period of time our disturbed climate will change back to its more natural balance.

Personally, of course I still have do deal with all of this “stuff”, and I have a fair idea of what I’m dealing with and it’s never easy. And sometimes I just have to seek sturdy shelter and hunker down; Sooner or later the Sun will re-appear and I have learned something. Or not. Another opportunity will present itself

I take Refuge in the Buddha. I take Refuge in Dharma. I take Refuge in the Sangha.

 

Seeking the impossible, I

Found over time, that being

Still allowed the possible to

Just walk on in and sit down.

Now I have to learn how to

Treat this unexpected company.

Being compassionate towards…

One of the nice things about the current Situation is that people are out and about being actually nicer to each other and waving, smiling, allowing, even slightly bowing and generally being more courteous. This is how compassion is made real.

Compassion is mostly seen as being a good ‘feeling’ that one generates and then sends towards others, which in and of itself is a good thing, but my observation is that real compassion is an activity of how one ‘is’ towards others; and most importantly how one ‘is’ towards ones Self.

The word compassion basically means to ‘be at one with one’s passions’, which is also a workable baseline description of meditation as an activity and a reasonable way of approaching daily life.

So, for me to be compassionate to myself is to look at and investigate, while being still; the whence, wherefore and the why of the passions as they arise, and where do they go when I don’t act on them.

This is time well spent. Promotes being a productive member of society and everything that may  entail.

 

Bored, looking for something to do, I

Investigate myself quietly and hope to

See what is in it for me to know and be.

Dharma, horses, rocks & stories…

chagdud tulku

This is a copy of a short writing by a highly regarded Tibetan Master who’s teachings I used to attend in the 80’s in St. Helena, Napa Valley…My wife Linda copied it out by hand onto a view we had from the Oakville Crossroad where we lived, to the Mayacamas Mountains where Sun would set.

He was a very powerful teacher and in the year or so I attended his talks I was able to steady my foundation in the Dharma. I didn’t know that at the time, and there can be a fair question as to the steadiness of that foundation today.

One story I heard him use to answer someone’s question as to the efficacy of sitting in meditation for only an hour each day was;

‘If you have a herd of 24 horses, only one of them is the leader, wherever she goes, the others will follow.’

 

Nevertheless, a rock is a rock, the

Only thing that may matter is 

Placement within its surrounding

Area and its current circumstance.

Free, in a wall or in the cement;

Perhaps in a brook, a garden or

Blowing as dust in the wind

It is where it is and how it

Got there is just a story. 

Many rocks, mountains of stories.

Corners of life (intersections)…

img_20200518_092635

I keep putting off doing an array of tidying things up a bit. It gets worse than this, but its not a bad picture of one corner of my mind too. Thousand words and all that.

We insist we are trying to get

Into the flow and want to observe

Simultaneously our place in it.

Very difficult to do, if not

Outright impossible,