sunrise, sunset, cheer-up…

I’ve always been partial to the old saying that The Sunrise does not guarantee the Sunset. Life is unpredictable and there’s nothing we can actually count on in certainty.

It’s not exactly a comfort saying, but one that can come in handy when we are trying to sympathize or emphasize with a problem that another person may be having; ranging from the death of a loved one to the sudden interruption of a planned event. In other words, stuff that happens and leaves us vulnerable, disappointed or at loose ends. Because the sun comes up one day we won’t be around to see it set. No exceptions. (There must be a loophole, let’s put our heads together and think about this…Off to the races).

We have been given a free, seemingly endless resource, called time and most of us piss it away like there are endless tomorrows. I know that I can waste it by all the increments we’ve assigned to it; seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and sadly, years.

It all starts with the tiny trickle of those almost imperceptible seconds. Next thing one knows one is old or worse yet, older than one thinks they are.

So here I am, and have regrets.

Today, I have another day like always and have another choice. I can slow my flow into the future by being purposeful in how I expend my self. I don’t require meaning. The search for meaning, to me, is a fools errand, so I’m finding purpose in trying to be more care-full in the why’s and the how’s I do anything.

If its worth doing deliberately, intentionally (i.e. thought through), and slowly, then that’s a state of being. Paying heed to how I am, and how I do is the way for me to change from mere ‘doing’ into being.

Into action and into perpetual motion are not the same activities

Currently it seems we have more time on our hands and an opportunity to explore the implications of that; Gift? Problem? Curse? All three intertwining? Who knows? Here we are.

I’m not good at change and may never be but I am willing to change course, ever so slightly.

When we send a rocket at the moon we don’t ‘shoot it’ at the moon, we send it up and then start guiding it incrementally towards the goal. Minute changes in direction with some constancy of effort.

Tonight when I go to bed I will wake tomorrow one day closer to my death, whenever that will be. Within all of that is a constant presentation of choices. Whether I make  a decision out of fear, love, indifference or for any reason I proclaim, it’s always a choice.

Dang! Note to self!

“Must go to moon tomorrow!

But, slowly!”

Re Ligare…

It is my understanding that the Latin root word for  the word Religion, is ‘Ligare’. Which is also the root for the word ligament. It means to connect or to tie onto. With the ‘Re’ it means to reconnect, or to tie-back onto something.

Not being afraid of words can be very helpful. The way I see this as personally useful is at one point in my life when I had made such a mess of it, that I was willing and ready to die on the streets in despair and confusion. At one point I asked for help. A seagull had shit on my shoulder while standing in a line at St. Anthony’s on Golden Gate Ave. in S.F. and that oddly enough was the beginning of my saying “Enough! I don’t want to die like this!”

It takes what it takes.

The help started coming by the truckload, but I was not ready to accept it. I was not through running. I stopped running when I finally saw that no wanted to chase me any more. They had given up trying to help. The drama wasn’t sufficient. Finally I was actually alone

When I started to accept the help, I encountered and accepted a 12 Step program that changed my life, a month into it I declared myself a Buddhist and after almost 37 years I may be catching on to some basic things. Here’s one.

I had a deep hole in my gut and tried to fill it with many things and almost died. Then when I finally accepted help, I began to seek a way to commence a reconnection to that which I seemed to be disconnected from.

Even thoughI didn’t know what That was.

 

Feeling an emptiness.

Not knowing cause or what it is.

Yet setting out in search of it.

Empty hole,

Must fill! No!

Don’t create or

Excavate to leave yet again ,

An other empty hole.

Allow, to fill.

Liminal and Limnal…

              A friend asked me via text a question about Liminal experience, and this was my response.

               “So, to be aware of a transition, of whatever sort, always has some relevance. But, from the context of my spiritual life, the purpose of being still is to slowly, over a period of time (days, weeks, months, years, lifetimes?), experience the process of change as being being the only constant, real and philosophical, in the Universe. God is, in the vast sense, Change. That process, as observed more and more minutely lets us see that, even as we sit still, we change. It’s not a big deal, although the Biggest, and we shouldn’t get caught up in the wonder of it all, by the time you’ve realized you are in a liminal moment (as opposed to “limnal’ which means you’re next to body of water:), the light from a star 100,000 billion light years away will reach the Earth that night for the first time.
So, getting caught up in ‘moments’ and ‘experiences’ and ‘feelings’ and ‘thoughts’ and ‘ideas’ about this and that, also has to be let go of. We just sit still and then arise and go about doing that what needs doing, which is right in front of us.
Always asking “What is good to do? What is good to know? Please help”.

                  I once had a “dream” that I was standing in a vast meadow that stretched from horizon to horizon in very direction and I was standing next to a gate on a wooden split-rail fence that stretched from the horizon of my left, all the way out of sight to my right. I opened the gate by lifting the loop of rope that held it closed, swung it away to open and stepped through. Nothing changed except I was on the other side of the fence. It was a big revelation.

I once had the following experience next to a Lake; it was limnal.
Reveal:  To open up to view,
Instruction not called for,
Investigation not needed.

The bookies odds…

I lived a lot of my early life in a world where gambling was an everyday activity. Everybody I knew had a bookie, or two, or three, and spent considerable time placing or figuring out bets to be placed. There were odds for anything. In todays world of online gambling I gather you can bet on anything.

It used to be that sports betting had “the official line” (ostensibly Las Vegas legit) which came out every Tuesday; because that gave everybody the weekend and after Monday Night Football to pay off or collect from outcomes of whatever games had played.                On Mondays, for those “in the know” (i.e. degenerate gamblers:), they had the ‘outlaw line” which was just an indicator to see how bets were lining up with balancing of bettors on both sides of a bet. Bookies make money on balancing the money between opposing side because they collect a fee for each transaction. You know, like Wall Street. Which I have been told, ad nauseam, is not like gambling at all.                                        Right. Brokers are not bookies. Right?

Anyway,  the last few years the U.S. has about 38,000 to 42,000 deaths due to gunshots, anually. About 2/3 of those are suicide. Still, a bullet is a bullet. A projectile fired from a gun.

This year, I bet, there are odds being offered, somewhere, about the total Corona Virus death toll. With lots of qualifiers as to determination process of final figures.

So, it crossed my mind this morning that even if this pandemic stuff occurs every year and we never get a handle on it, it’ll never equal gunshot deaths just in the U.S.

What if we gave Three Trillion Dollars to all the people in the gun business to just quit making and selling guns, except for military purposes?

I’d bet they would take it and move on to some other less deadly and socially disruptive enterprise.  Maybe. It really is hard to tell. Perhaps that’s a good ‘proposition’ bet with any bookie working on any Street corner, or bar where brokers  bookies gather.

 

Delusion is the mind telling

Its self it is not and

Can not be deluded

Because It knows that.

On the ‘Natch’…

Back in the 70’s in North Beach of S.F. there was a slang usage of the word ‘naturally’ that I always liked but wasn’t used often. Someone would be telling some tale of having left North Beach and gone into the wilds of Marin County, or even deeper into Not-North-Beach, maybe even going all the way into Sonoma County or, God forbid into the Central Valley, and the story would relate to having spent hours driving into the country and back, “on the natch”, with indicated the privation of no drugs or alcohol used for a block of hours away from North Beach. This type of usage always occurred in Bar-room conversations of course.

I have been having a polar opposite experience of being on the natch during this time of consternation we are experiencing. Since I haven’t had a drug or drink in37 years and instead took up Buddhism and meditation I’ve been on the natch by choice. But, there is a natch, and there is natch.

What seems to be naturally occurring for me at this time is a settling into a rhythm of not being in a hurry while actually having no place to go and discovering there is no deep need at all, to go anywhere or do anything. In conjunction with a diminuendo of cognitive ability, as well as short-term memory fading faster than I would like, there is suddenly no real reason to be doing 90% of what I had invested habit-energy into for most of my life.

I’ve been training as a lay Buddhist for many years in conjunction with my sobriety, and have gotten used to thinking that, I go to the temple,  that I go on retreats,  I go and sit in meditation, I go to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for refuge. These things are all true and have been good to do. But, currently all those thing seem to coming to me; as I just go through each day in a naturally quiet mode.

Many people are dealing with anxiety and worry as their main experience during this time, and I’ve certainly had those arise as well, but they don’t seem to maintain traction.

I suspect that most of us, as we go through this period of seemingly imposed restriction, will find small opportunities in-between the worry and anxiety relating to all the practical aspects of life; like school, work, debts, family, aging and the sensing more keenly the actual impartiality of death and dying. A dying that can be brought on by a loved ones kiss or caress or pat on the head, or a stranger passing by; and we may never know which was the cause.

The other part of this time is the concern and love for others that is moving forward in our awareness, time is a precious commodity and we can never know how much we have left. There have been many families walking and biking all over town, we’re having some nice Spring weather and many young people out or young mothers with their kids.

Bee’s buzzing in cherry blossoms and kids buzzing on all manner of wheeled conveyance. In the future, the High School graduates of 2020 throughout the whole country, will be talking and reminiscing about this Spring/Summer and it will be a fond memory of a nostalgic time.

Unless of course, if after this passes, we don’t seriously get down to business and alter our habits and how we relate to the world and its environment.

We are either in a Teaching

Moment, or just experiencing

 A small taste of things to come.

I’m hoping, Teaching moment.

Please, let’s all learn something

Helpful, and positive.

Disturbance, discomfort and dis-ease…

Within all the disturbance and discomfort and dis-ease and disease we are currently experiencing, I have become increasingly grateful for having found a path of spiritual life that gives me not only a context and a basket that holds everything, a basket I can put fear, worry, doubt and apprehension in; and from which I can take out the solution to those same worries, etc.

A mystical basket that has great depth and is also a very practical one because it offers refuge, understanding and a way to be with what I may perceive as negative aspects of life. Seen from a distance that allows some space between my feelings and reality. That space is impartiality.

I don’t have to choose a position on anything. Although I always have choices. Hmmmmm? When I take a position my view is altered and my choices biased.

When I try to stay closer to the middle (center) I can see situations and life in a more balanced way and perhaps be more reasonable in my relation to the day to day activities of life. Certainly not always, but way more than I used to be before I started on this path.

If I lined up all the Buddhist practitioners in the world and asked them to write a two hundred word description of meditation, no two would be alike. Neither description, nor practitioner. Buddhism allows wide latitude in how we go about gathering our faith together, not as a belief system but rather a system of core behavioral advice that will over time change how we are. Buddhism is a process, not an event.

Currently with the world situation being what it is, we think we are experiencing something new or novel, well we are, but most of the world has been in greater discomfort for many centuries than we have ever been. In my lifetime in U.S., we have lived at the height of Empire while 80 % of world was used by our educational system as proof we are special and that others need to be exploited so that we can grow stronger, and then help them. If we don’t stampede we have tremendous opportunities facing us

Here we are. Life is and always will be uncertain, if not now, later for sure.

So, here we are.

Our current big choice is how we look at the discomforts we are experiencing? I choose to see them as a teaching for my own good, whether I live or die, everything in my life is always being presented to me as a teaching for my own good and consequently for the good of all beings. I can choose to look past the end of my nose and look up, rather than down.

How can I help? What can I do? Please allow me to see and act clearly, and if unclear to refrain from acting ’til I know what is good to do! That is today’s prayer and deep wish.

 

Today is a beautiful Spring day, its not always

Rainy and dark when the Mongol Horde, or the

Einsatzgruppen, or British East India Co., or

“Go West young man” starts, or Bubonic

Plagues and Chinese famines and Vietnamese

Invasions commence or 9/11 just happens.

It’s never just one cause for anything, rather a

Chain of causation that stretches way back

Beyond the thought of man. Here we all are.

Yes, we can, we can change and accept and

Lean into the Sunset and welcome Sunrises.

After we ask, can we stay still long enough 

To hear the answer and then, see what is

Really needed,         for the benefit of all?

Fear, worry, not new…

Interesting times. The news narrative, the political narrative, the economic one, the medical one, the mental distress one and the ‘subtle understanding shift’ one.

We have a strong sense that something is going wrong, that there is a New Normal.

Nothing is going wrong, this is all normal.

The world, as constituted, is woven through with danger, unpleasantness and fear. As Buddhism points out, there is birth, disease, old age, and death. The last three don’t occur without the first, or in a predictable order.

The world, as constituted, is also filled with compassion, understanding, co-operation and sympathy and empathy and love; endless amounts of all.

None of us can point to anything for sure happening tomorrow. You may say, “Of course I can, there will be a sunrise.”. Not if you die before then.

Yet, we live in a dreamworld that whispers to us that if we just follow our passions we can derive satisfaction, if our kitchen pantry is full and an array of exercise equipment is available we are on the right track. We really feel (justifiably we insist), that is the way things should be for everyone, we chant inclusively, but even in this dreamworld, unrealistically.

We’ve lived at the height of the greatest and richest Empire the world has ever known and we felt it was our due and rightful inheritance, and now it falls apart and not so slowly, but surely; and we struggle. We’ve lived the lives of ‘The Gods’ of just 2000 years ago (or way less) and we called it normal. Whoops!

Every human is born as a result of good past karma, but unless we comport our lives to reality, that karma wears out, often early in life. Certainly towards the end, unless we change how we live them.

It is never, ever, too late. Every human can individually change their range of choices to better ones, refine already good ones and start to refrain from poor ones. Just effort required.

Easy? No. If it was easy we would have been doing it all along. And, we haven’t.

Yet, here we are.

There are still birds and the trees,

the flowers and the bees; for real,

in our hearts and minds, for real.

We are not doomed, we have just painted ourselves into a corner, after all we are the ones who created the condition for this virus to be successful. Migrating birds interact with animals kept in close proximity of human habitation and raised for food and viruses, (science doesn’t know for sure whether they are a ‘real’ life form?) move from the birds to farmed animals to humans. Whoops! (Polite puzzled laughter.)

Somewhere within all of this is an opportunity and it is not of the narrative qualities  we’ve assigned to our Interesting Times. It’s in a very personal waking up to the possibility of co-operative change.

Co-operating with the world as it is; not how we have insisted it be.

We have a New Normal forming in the alternatives we choose to see, not the one’s we’ve picked in search of constant comfort.

Hope for the best

Expect nothing

Do the possible

 

Winter, Frog, Spring and Autumn…

A very mild Winter, a frog outside my window has been croaking daily. I answer him; might be a her for all I know. It is is just one frog calling, I thought heard another, a different croak, answering about a month ago and then it sounded like they came together, but parted shortly and now the original has moved to another side of house and we still talk. Sometimes when it gets chatty, I start to go very quietly to the front door and think about sneaking around to see where and what kind it is, and as I start to quietly turn the latch it gets super quiet again.

I realized this morning when I understood the croak, that we all want to connect with something and affirm our existence. Me and the frog quietly alone and chirping and croaking to see if there are are others like us and there are. Different, but wanting answers that require hopeful croaking, sitting, reading, doing ceremony and things congruent with our natures, and being wistful as mild Winter turns into Spring.

Pizza and Knife Throwing…

My days just seem to unfold, no development or discernible direction nor plan. Just that which seems to need doing getting done, more or less. Sounds sort of Zenish but it ain’t, its a fraying of mind that seems to be the way things are at the moment. I can’t tell if it’s a real ‘thing’ (i.e. losing it), or a phase of spiritual wandering that will sort itself out at some future time, sooner than later I hope; I think.

It doesn’t really matter what it is. That it even is, has some relevance that needs awareness and attention at some level, yet generally it seems what is needed is a way to just be with it. How does one be while not totally being, with it? I can’t hope for a formula or directions. Time for some faith and maybe bumbling.

It seems that getting right down to the X Y Z of it and solving the mystery of it is not the way to be with it. My focus currently is to be less annoying to others, although I do seem to have gotten even more talkative and spiraling in my expression yet I also feel as if I’m speaking more truthfully, although to no particular effect.

I don’t think I’m outcast material or require avoidance and certainly not less strange than I’ve ever been. Although Today, was good day.

After doing laundry and having a nice Cappuccino at the local Pattisserie, nicely the friendly young barrista wrote ‘HELMET’ in the foam as a friendly and humorous gesture. After that I drove to the cemetery for an early afternoon walk, temperature in the sixties, with just a T=shirt on to get vitamin D and revel in the Spring buds. Last year on this date we started four weeks of snow storms that took ’til May to finally ago away.

At about halfway through my walk I approached a couple that seemed to be throwing something towards some of the graves next to a very large tree and there was metallic “clinking” involved. They had a truck and a car pulled up nose-to-nose on the grass, and I could see that they were throwing long dagger looking knives, the kind of phony throwing-knives they used to sell on the back pages of hunting &fishing magazines, or nowadays presumably on sites for ‘warriors and stealth defenders of whatever’; phone but probably dangerous in the right hands, not theirs obviously from all the bouncing-off-the-tree efforts they were engaged in. As I approache my old hyper-alertness mechanism appeared and as I looked in their direction, just across a single-car-width road,  the guy turned towards me with three of these large goofy throwing-knives in one hand, and brushing his teeth, yes foamy toothbrush, with the other; and said, “Yeah. Looks weird I know.” He was about 6’5″ tall and his girlfriend, also holding three long throwing-knives, just grinned at me in agreement and I said. “That’s cool, you’re just multi-tasking.” and passed them.

I admit there were about five steps where I was hype- alert when my back was to them, but it was nice day in the Spring and everyone enjoys them differently.

I ended up at my favorite, Sweet Basil Pizzeria, where I get two slices (Margherita and Basil-pesto), every week. I always sit a tiny counter-ledge for one person, that is near the counter but faces into the bigger dining-area where I can watch the giant TV always tuned to sports, and in the Season exclusively on the Baseball Channel. I have my two slices and am halfway through one, when I realize I forgot to get my Coke ( a treat and maybe why I eat pizza, just an excuse to drink the vile but tasty, soda:), so I go to get it and coming back I see that some kid has set down a soda he was drinking right between my plate of pizza and my napkins, like really in personal territory, as I sit down next to my obvious “somebody’s food”, he seemed to realize that he had encroached, he apologizes and pick up his drink and my used napkin, gets his to-go slices and heads out; with my used napkin wrapped around his drink.

I was amused at his obliviousness and furthermore took great comfort in the fact that maybe I’m not that far gone yet. Schadenfruede? Not quite, but a bit of a boost.