Saturday, July 31, 2010


What would the Dalai Lama do? Ok, so I get it, the guy is adorable. I mean look at him! Cutest world leader I've ever seen. But I'll be honest, I'm pretty tired of other religious leaders and politicians saying they're "Interfaith" because they met with His Holiness. Don't get me wrong, he knows his Buddhist philosophy, he gets the basic premises, but there is something lacking... Oh yeah, the influence and voice of the other schools and sects of Buddhism.

The Dalai lama represents Tibetan Buddhism overall but more specifically one sect, the Gelugpa, of Tibetan Buddhism. My thought? It's the easy way out for politicians.

The Buddha never appointed a successor, it was said the community of monks he left behind would continue to teach the Dharma after his death. Not so convenient for today's modern political candidate who wants to appeal to the Buddhist voters. I mean seriously, who's he going to shake hands with, 500 monks and nuns? I think not. So in comes His Holiness, how easy! One monk to rule them all, and he's darn sweet to boot! Well sorry, but that's not how life works. No easy package to just satisfy all of the masses.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, His Holiness is a huge humanitarian, a symbol of world peace, and a wonderful Buddhist, I just wish politicians would and could understand that he does not speak for all of us. Not only that, he is not our Pope. Bodhisattva incarnate or not, he isn't the boss of me (Nehhhhhhhhhhhh!).

Blessings to you your Holiness, may you live long and continue your work. Blessings to you politicians as well, you could learn much from H.H. and other Buddhist and religious wayseekers.

For Ryokan

Don't worry about your antics, friend
Only the best of us
Manage to lose ourselves in the world.

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Ryokan

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse

Like the little stream
Making its way
I, too, quietly
Become clear and transparent

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I am just what I am

Sounds a bit like something Zen Master Popeye would say, huh? But that really is the point. We are not perfect and no amount of meditation will ever make us perfect. We are neurotic, upset, dysfunctional, sad, angry, alcoholic Buddhas. And it's ok, always ok. But we should still try to be better, kinder, more compassionate people. A paradox, huh?

Too often I feel as though I come off wholesome, humble, all of that business. I've hurt people, messed up relationships, lied, stolen, pushed, yelled, cheated, etc... But! I've tried to change that as much as I can. I think I'm a bit more even headed now, but really that isn't the point. There is no point! No end goal, no "other shore" to reach, no enlightenment, no delusion. Every moment is the other shore whether we like it or not. We just wish things were different, and that's why we can't even see the Buddha's robe we wear.

I don't drink. Not because I'm so high and mighty on the moral ladder that I think I'm better than that, that it is some how beneath me. It just doesn't agree with me, I don't like the taste, and I don't like feeling numb. Often enough, drinks are taken to "take the edge off." I think this is the biggest load of BS I've ever heard. NOTHING, not even meditation, will ever fully take the edge off. It might dull things for a bit, but life is a self-sharpening knife. The edge always comes back. The purpose, I suppose is figuring out how to handle that knife. We can use it to slice our food, make something wonderful and fulfilling. Or we can cut ourselves because "we just can't handle it."

There are people with real, deep, dark problems and secrets in the world. It is hard to handle them, but let me reiterate it is ok. We start our life every moment, there is nothing holding us back. Let your demons come out, it's just your brain anyway. Thoughts are to the brain what stomach acid is to the stomach. A natural occurrence. Just leave them as they are and they will fade. I have no credentials, no certificate saying anything I'm saying is right, "an enlightened experience" I just speak from what I know and the pain I see in those close to me. I just ask that people wield their knives with care and a calm demeanor, even when it seems impossible. Cut your tomatoes, your cucumbers, and your bread - not yourself or each other.

A great fool and terrible chef.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toss it back on the train tracks.

The end of summer draws closer and closer every day. What do I have to show for it? Not much; a tan, some relaxing days, a few cases of heat stroke and some new scars. Lately I have been feeling terribly listless and totally useless. Doing the same thing OVER and OVER and OVER again. Well that's what I thought at least.

The computer is a bit of a leech on our lives I've come to see. We check this site and that site over and over looking for something new to pop up to entertain us for a brief moment or two and then we go back to lazing around until we get bored and then go back to the computer. There's no schedule in all of it, it's a random, energy sapping fascination. Very bizarre to me, now.

I suppose my whole realization is that I need to stop feeling so goddamn sorry for myself, I'm alive and I have food (and A/C, seriously). The whining about having nothing to do and blehhh blehhhh blehhhhhhhhhhhhh is only a self-defeating (yeah I know, "no-self") cycle. So I've put myself on a more rigid schedule. Wake ups, meditations, working, reading, computing, breakings, yogaings, all pretty much planned out. More and more I see why sesshin (intensive zen meditation retreats lasting from 1-90 days) are so freeing even though there is a VERY rigid schedule. Here's a typical one I found:

03:40 Wakeup
04:10 Zazen
05:00 Kinhin
05:10 Zazen
06:00 Serve-up/Breakfast/Break

07:10 Zazen
08:00 Kinhin
08:10 Zazen
09:00 Kinhin
09:10 Zazen
10:00 Kinhin
10:10 Zazen
11:00 Kinhin
11:10 Zazen
Noon Serve-up/Lunch/Break

01:10 Zazen
02:00 Kinhin
02:10 Zazen
03:00 Kinhin
03:10 Zazen
04:00 Kinhin
04:10 Zazen
05:00 Kinhin
05:10 Zazen
06:00 Serve-up/Dinner/Break

07:10 Zazen
08:00 Kinhin
08:10 Zazen
09:00 End of Day

INTENSEEEEEEEEEEEE! But seriously, there is freedom in the rigidity. No worries about this or that, you know what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to do it. But, I say this with a grain of salt, because if things do not go as we plan, we cannot do this and this time or that at that time as we may have planned. JUST BE OK WITH IT. Life never follows a schedule exactly. Nothing is ever how it is SUPPOSED to be, it is just how IT IS. Life, unfolding moment by moment. Teaching, moment by moment.

Now back to my dumplings.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can you wrap yourself in the world around you?

From a Facebook Post:

Hey guys. So here's the lowdown on this: I need your help. I beginning a long and possibly frustrating journey of sewing this. The Kesa.

Sawaki Roshi's Kesa made of old Kimonos

Just some background info on this. It is the Buddha robe, well this Buddha's robe anyway. Way back when in india the Buddha collected scraps of cloth from anywhere he could find, rubbed them with saffron and other plants to sterilize the bacteria (and get rid of the smell possibly?), and sewed them together to make his clothing. The tradition lives on until today. So I am currently in the process of gathering fabric to make a kesa in the coming year(s). It is a loooooooooooooong process. I believe there are about 24,000 stitches in one, all done by hand. So that's why I need your help.

If anyone has any fabric, shirts, bedsheets, curtains, dresses, etc... I would be extremely grateful for the donation. It can have holes, stains, anything. The point isn't having the nicest fabric, the cleanest, the freshest. It is wholly about the journey, the process.

One more thing

My grandmother passed away just before summer started after a long and debilitating battle with a degenerative brain disease. I never got to say goodbye to her and I don't feel that my father or grandfather have come to terms with it. I will ask for an article of hers, anything really, from my grandfather and include it in this kesa. In the same sense, if any of you have a loved one you wish to be remembered and wish to donate an item of theirs, I would be beyond honored to include it in this robe.

The kesa is about life; not all shiny and new, not all happy and colorful. Sometimes it's dirty, depressing, saddening, even bloody. But that is life. We take the shiny and new right along with the dirty and old. Everything is viewed with an equal eye and respected with an equal heart.

Deshimaru Roshi wearing the Kesa in zazen (It's a HUGE piece of fabric)

So take a look through your closets, you college dorm sheets you were going to burn (we all know how gross that gets), anything. You have my biggest and most heartfelt promise to do whatever you provide justice.

THE VERSE OF THE KESA (recited before placing it on the body)
Vast is the robe of liberation
A formless field of benefaction
I wear the Tathagata teaching
Saving all sentient beings

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hook line and... Nah.

Going camping in a week, Dad recommended a fishing license. Sorry, Dad, fish have feelings too. It's a common misconception that fish can't feel pain. In lab tests, when their lips were injected with low strength acid, they spent much of their time rubbing their lips in gravel to dull the pain.

Fish, you may swim free now!

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're all just one big happy family, right?

I often get emails from various members of very extended family I have never met but this? The Above link refers to an email many of you have probably already seen, but that was just revealed to me this morning. It includes a letter written by a Michigan state professor telling Muslim students to "leave the country" because he is fed up with their culture, aka freely practicing their religion and protesting the depiction of Muhammad in a Dutch newspaper. Michigan State has supported the professor and not asked him to give an apology for his letter.

The title of the email I received? "Go Michigan State!"

Here's my problem: What the hell? We support bigots and racists who generalize whole cultures based on the most vivid case? Is that how America works? So basically, I should refer to all Catholics as pedophiles, all Protestants as Jesus Freaks, all Hindus as Cow-Worshippers, and Buddhists as asians or hippies, and all Muslims are terrorists. Not a chance.

Obviously ignorance and arrogance reigns in this country from time to time. For if Christ was depicted like this there would certainly be just as much outrage. "But, hold on! They're different! They don't believe in Christ (actually Christ is mentioned about 28 times in the Quran as a messenger of God) and well, they blow stuff up!" Get your head out of the sand, to put it nicely.

Certain members of my family feel the need to feed me this ignorant bull and I'm rather tired of it. I'd rather be written out of 100 wills than to even acknowledge that this is just and O.K. People would do well to read something about anything these days rather than live off sound bites from Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck, Keith Olberman, or any other conservative/liberal reporter.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Just Make It Work

A long day in Washington D.C. today. Much walking about, mainly around the Smithsonian, with my roommate. On paper? We should hate each other. Politically, religiously, and sometimes morally we are total opposites. But it works. Why?

Because people can get over themselves from time to time. I think that's a big problem we have, especially here in this political climate. We are much to concerned with me, and less concerned with each other. As long as I go home, get in bed, and know that I was a stubborn fool that stood up for dusty old beliefs that have no real bearing, well I can sleep well can't it? Nope. You shouldn't. It's foolishness. But that's how we cope isn't it?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Stitching yourself together

Like most people home from college after their freshman year, I found a hobby. No, not recreating all the debauchery of my first year, I don't have the time to party quest when they aren't within walking distance. I started sewing. Yeah, whatever, I know. Not exactly the wildest or craziest summer plans, but I like it.

I started sewing the Rakusu just less than ago, you can see a picture to the right. It's as finished as it can be for the moment, as I am required to receive a piece from my teacher to sew on the back. This is all in preparation for Jukai, which I will let you google on your own if interested. But sewing a metaphor for life and then some. Again, I won't repeat all the metaphors. Pick up a needle and thread to hand sew something for a month and I guarantee you'll learn a thing or to about your patience, humor, and commitment.

I would like to sew the kesa, the full Buddha's robe. The Rakusu is a miniature version of this, used when the kesa is cumbersome to wear. It is a reminder of the commitment to one's practice. And I am very proud of mine, even for it's flaws and even though I don't think I should be.

But anyways, the World Cup is coming on!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A shift.

The last blog I had became cluttered and rambling, hopefully I won't commit the same crimes this time!