Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blagoyevich Hair

His 1971 John Travolta hair is the tell that's there's something wrong here. "My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut and so, to keep him true, I go one too" -- Donna Lynn, WABC "Hot Prospect" 1/28/64.

Blagoyevich is a runt politician in the fine Ross Perot tradition except that he lacks the Texan's polished worldliness. I'm guessing the mountainous hair is to make up for the lack of stature...but then a real haircut would leave the lack of stature in place, so what's with the blow-dry bullshit?

Worst Year Since 1931

For the stock market. That's a long way back. Another generation completely. I don't get the impression that folks quite realize the extent of the effects. This is some serious shit.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunday Morning at the Zen Center, 9/11/05

It's Zen master Dennis Merzel with a cool breeze coming in through the windows. He asks for a few minutes of silence to commemorate the day and to think of those who suffered on 9/11 in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania and of those who are now suffering from Hurricane Katrina.
Practice. Our practice: what is it? We're looking for ways to deal with our lives and with what life brings us. It's like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you'll get when you bite into one of the pieces. It's the first mark of Buddhism: life is in constant flux, aka impermenance. Uncertainty. It's the most difficult aspect of our lives. It's stressful.

Because if we really look and we're really honest, we never know what's gonna be. We're usually in denial about it. We never know. 9/11 is a demonstration of that. So is Hurricane Katrina. No knowing, no predicting.

The fact is, we NEVER know. Things are topsy-turvy. That's uncertainty that we live in. It's a mark of Buddhism. Fact of life. We don't know. We like to pretend that we do know, but we don't. We can't know.

In our practice, there are two ways. Two legs. Two wings. Two aspects. One is sitting. Develop through samahdi. It allows us to continually be disrupted, off of our center, to land on our feet. It's gyroscopic. We come back to our centeredness. To where we reside. This is only developed through sitting. The equanimity, the landing on our feet -- sitting.

The other aspect is insight. Realization. It can come at any time. When sitting. When not sitting. Looking directly into ourselves, having a glimpse of the truth that is usually veiled. Because the ego is in the way. Forgetting, dropping, letting go of ego -- in a moment.

We see there's nothing we can count on. Nothing we can depend on. No one is going to live up to our expectations. Nothing is really reliable. Only thing for sure is change. Whatever we hold on to will eventually slip through our fingers.

Insight is not really graspable fully. Just as ungraspable as anything else. Insight means that we realize this. Nothing to grab hold of and count on. Uncertainty creates anxiety. How we deal with that determines how our life goes.

Constant denial of fear makes it worse. We have to look at what are my fears. What are my worries. We have to own them. Our practice is to be one with them: be the not-knowing. Or ignore it? That's called ignore-ance. Not ignoring it is called insight.

In our practice, skillful means equals koans. A koan is a question or a piece of dialogue that to understand, to realize, to comprehend is something that cannot be comprehended with our dualistic mind.

Our dualistic mind is DEEPLY ROOTED. It's our inheritance from the flight or fight days of human existence. Snap reactions are needed to survive. It's from long ago.

Problem is: dualistic thinking is one step away from true perception. True perception is where no seperation exists between self and others. Dualistic thinking is already not reality. It's a way of dealing with existence, but it's not what is. It's through shattered lenses, it's a fragmented way of seeing.

Insight allows us to realize this. Sitting allows us to deal with the realization. Otherwise life is stressful.

Sitting by yourself is definitely not enough. Insight by itself is not enough. You need to honor both aspects. Buddha called it shamatha/vispassna. Buddha encouraged his monks to sit and to have insight.

In our lives, the stress level is way up from 2000 years ago. Things are changing so fast: cell phone, then Blackberry, then Ipod, then Tivo. This produces stress. The older we get the more difficult it is to reduce stress. How do we face that? Make the practice accessible to everyone,even though you have a job, a family, a mortgage. We have a place to sit and have insights.

It is the koan of this, the 21st Century: how do we gain the same insights as the ancients? How do we live our life expressing our full potential?

Q: How do you know when you're having an insight or that it's just bullshit?
A: There is no self involved. Otherwise, it's bullshit. And a geniune insight has to end up as a manifestation in our lives. Manifesting your insights into your daily life comes from practice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

List of Things I Put Off Because I Can't Afford Repairs And Credit Cards Are Maxed Out

1. Garage door opener.
2. Cracked windshield.
3. Busted rear left turn signal shield.
4. Busted pipes because we left the hose attached in freezing weather.
5. Front screen door doesn't quite close properly.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Why I Fell Asleep In Philosphy Class

What's the difference betweent explanation and justification?

Almost as fascinating and uplifting as "what's the difference between reference and description?"

The purpose of the modern philosophy department is to help out science and scientific thinking. Step outside of that framework and you're looking for work, already a tough assignment.

Why I Bought A Book Today

The first two sentences did it:

"To observe the regulations and keep to the rules is tying oneself without a rope. To act freely and unrestrainedly just as one wishes is to do what heretics and demons would do."

Here's the book.

Jimmy Stewart in "Vertigo" and Dark Obsessive Karma

She set you up,Jimmy, she misled you, she used you, she broke your heart -- and you want to return to the scene of the crime? And what's with all of this following her around? Sure, you're an investigator, but your investigation takes on the creepy feeling of a stalker. Is your dark obsessiveness the "vertigo" of "falling" in love?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Albert Ellis

See the Village Voiceinterview.

Patricia S. introduced me to the works of Albert Ellis in 1981. Rational Emotive Therapy. Treats depression. You can read the interview to see if you'd like it.

I didn't go for it much, but Patricia sure liked it and seemed to know it through and through, indicating a lot of therapy sessions somewhere along the line. I veered off into Buddhism at the time, which some folks think bears a resemblance to the basic Ellis take on things.

Patricia was in therapy because her father raped her. She never quite got around to saying exactly that, but we were talking about the movie "Chinatown" and she let me in on her secret that way.

She showed me how to hike all the way up to the top of a 14-thousand foot mountain and then get back down again: Mt. Massive west of Leadville. My first time up and down a Fourteener: I would never have done it without her persistenly telling me it's not that tough.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Shocking Realization

My 83 year old mother is in a hospital in Iowa recovering from hip replacement surgery after she fell on steps while visiting my Aunt Regina. I called my mom at the hospital today and Regina answered the phone, sounding just as clear and confident as any 91 year old I have ever heard. I asked her how my mom was doing and she said "She's having trouble going to the bathroom, so the doctors are teaching her a method of getting it done." "Oh," I said.

"It's something like -- uh, have you ever had an enema?" asked my Aunt Regina.

"No, I haven't."

"Oh, you haven't?" she said. I could her my mother say something in the background.
"Your mother says you have had an enema -- when you were a child."

"Really?" I said. "I don't remember."

I think I changed the subject at that point and eventually talked with my mom and determined that she had been too well-medicated for a real conversation right then.

Anyway. This is the new information I'm dealing with this morning. I think it's funny, but I can't quite explain why. It might have something to do with the ridiculous unexpectedness of it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Calming Effect

I called home and G. answered. He said, "Oh, Dad, you wanna talk to Mom, right? Hang on." Then, I heard him yell, "Hey, Mom, it's Dad!" He told me she had just walked out the door for a walk around the lake.

I could hear her come in the door and exhange a few words and exchange a few words with G. and then G. said, "Oh, happy Father's Day, Dad."

Proper B. always making sure the kids say the right thing at the right time. Then, she came on the phone and had that wonderfully relaxing tone that her old friends refer to as her "calming effect."

It comes with the softest, most reassuring touch in the world -- something I noticed the instant she put her fingers on my forehead to relieve my headache one night at dinner when we were first dating. She told me to close my eyes and I did and the next thing I noticed were the tips of her finger on my forehead and that instead of jumping away at the suddeness of it, I let her continue.

Fingers on, fingers off, fingers on, fingers off. On various spots of my forehead, my face and my neck. Then she told me to open my eyes. Headache gone. Well, not totally gone, but so diminished as not to be a factor. Like two aspirin.

I loved seeing her, smiling, across from me, inquiring, "How's it feel now?" I married her not too long after that.

Well, I meant it to be a Father's Day reflection, but it turns out to be a reflection by father. You never know how it'll take shape.