Monday, January 31, 2011


Mythology was one of my favorite things to read while I was growing up. The Norse, Greek, and Roman Gods battling it out, Hercules and his feats, Pegasus, etc... I thought it all was great. The plot line the character development, spot on!

Then again, I had the same view of Christianity and the stories of the Old and New Testament. What great plot! The Creation, the Flood! What drama and suspense! And even now I enjoy the story, I enjoy the Ramayana and Bhagavad-Gita with all of its imagery and poetry. I hope to read the Quran as well to understand the story there too. Buddhism even, the myths of Buddha's birth, life, Enlightenment and death. All great stories!

So what makes a myth a myth? In my view, a myth is an explanation for the world we live in that you don't believe in. Because while many Christians may hear the Hindu story of creation, of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma and say, "Wow! Great story, very creative". Surely Hindus hear the parable of the Loaves and Fishes and say "Wow! Great story, very creative".

I often have the question, "Do you believe in God?" thrown at me. Buddhism doesn't give me an answer, and that's why I like it because, to be honest, to give you an answer would be presumptuous. Answering that question "yes" or "no" would be making my relative view absolute, and I try to avoid that as much as possible. It's as if I say a cup is white while you say it's egg-shell. Your opinion vs. mine. Who's to say really? We each see the same cup, we just interpret what we see in different ways.

I won't conjecture how I got here. It's mind-boggling to think of the precise order of events that led me here right now, much less all of humanity. As a scientist I accept evolution, there's just too much evidence not to. But as for the origin of the Universe? All I can offer is a shoulder shrug; I'm really not too concerned.

It boils down to this: I think life is beautiful and I try to be a good person because really, how can you hate on something so wonderful? Easy for me to say, living in comfort, but it's how I feel and that's the vibe I try to put off. Whatever created the mountains and water, trees and sun, moon and garbage dump. Hats off.

"If God exists, I will chop wood and carry water. If God does not exist, I will chop wood and carry water."

Be Well.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just in case you were wondering...

Where does my "faith" lie? My teacher says it better than I can long before I knew:

"I put my faith in love. In love, I am nothing and nobody. Just like every single one of us. A pure and round moon shines."

I am in love with life, and on any given day, with everyone in it. Still, it is lonely sometimes:

flecks of light move dance
before my eyes in the night
a chill fall air blows

a single bench waits
between two trees for someone
I too am alone

moonlight lines shimmer
I read my teacher's poetry
great beautiful fool

As always, Be Well.

On Progress

I am ambivalent towards progress most of the time. Mainly because the word "Progress" in and of itself is much too vague. Often it is assumed that "progress" is and must always be forward, that there is some distant goal over the horizon that we must arrive at to become content. This idea has contributed much to the world, both in happiness and in suffering.

Progress is only relative to what we have, had, or wish to have. We progress away from certain energy sources because they are "bad" and move to what is "good", or we progress in our societal values from what was "discriminatory" to "equal". These are arguments made for progress, and I like them. I like the idea of progressing toward energy that does not create a noxious cloud of sulfur dioxide above my head. I like equality and rights for everyone. Good stuff!

But the other side of "progress" is often ignored. It was progress that gave us the Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb. It was progress that produced chemical and biological warfare. I was progress that encouraged humanity to clear land for "the good of the people" rather than the good of the Earth. This is also progress, just not what one normally considers upon hearing the word.

I am a scientist, I hope to continue being one in the future; it's something I enjoy and it's something I'm good at. That being said, science is not the cure all we have made it out to be. Science encourages us to strive forward, to push and push and push which, given the right attitude is great. That is how some of the greatest medicines, building materials, and energy innovations have come to be, by pushing. Science rarely, however, tells us to take a step back and see the big picture, how all the parts, not just the ones WE as an individual care about, come together. Unless we consider the implications of our breakthroughs, we risk creating another Atomic Bomb. That piece of technology, in my opinion, should have never been developed. There were ethics that were overlooked and implications for the future that were ignored. Once a can of worms is opened, you cannot so easily shut the lid. Even more so when the said can promises Power.

I am a Buddhist, I will continue being one in the future; it's something I enjoy and it's something that I can appreciate. Religion gets a bad name a lot of the time. The Crusades, Fundamentalist terrorism, Hate, racism, sexism etc... These apply to all religions, mine included. No faith has been exempt from dark times. But, like the mirror image of science, the opposite side is often ignored. The art, the music, the festivals, the vivifying beauty, the culture. There are many places in the world, India and Japan come to mind most instantly, that the religion and culture are so intermingled, the festivals of India, the respect for nature in Japan, that by dissolving one, we lose the other. I think that is often overlooked when people say "The world would be better without Religion". I think the world would be better without religious politics for sure, because the aforementioned problems are not a result of the faith, they are a result of using the faith as means for social domination and, once again, Power.

So where does that leave us? Well I sit here typing this wearing my Rakusu (See "Jukai") having finished some meditation and later I will work on my engineering homework. Am I a contradiction? I do not believe so. I believe that holding so tightly onto either Science or Religion that we cannot laugh at ourselves or see the virtue of the other is foolish. Grasping onto either makes us the Fundamentalists we so often deplore, be it those who yell from Soapboxes about the Damnation of humanity or those who yell from laboratories about the stupidity of those who have faith. Neither of the above produces peace, dialogue, or understanding. It only produces ignorance. I don't ask that everyone be religious, or have a faith. I only ask that people be understanding and appreciate the fact that faith, religion, or religious philosophy can be realistic and applicable to daily life as well. Nor do I ask for everyone to accept science in its entirety, because then we lose some of the magic of the unknown. Once we have figured everything out (a feat I feel is impossible for humanity and arrogant to assume its possibility) where will the magic and mystery exist? Where will the spirit of life grow when everything is reduced to facts?

As with everything I do, there is always some bit of the Buddha's philosophy imbedded. For this?

Take the middle road and enjoy the mountains on either side of you.

Be Well.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So today I undertook Jukai. What's that you say? You're not up on Zen Buddhist lingo? Well fear not! I shall explain. It's a ceremony where I formally commit to 16 precepts and the lineage of the teacher giving them. It's a pretty big deal and not so much a big deal at the same time. I'm still me, I still have my faults, and really, what did I receive? Some special Mind power? Not really, just some good guidelines that I happened to make a public commitment to.

The "bib" is a "travel-size" robe that I sewed in preparation for this ceremony. It has my new "Dharma Name" written on the back. But really, you could be Myoken just as I now am in the Zen circle. What's in a name, after all?

The ceremony was simple, it was beautiful, it was heart-warming. I teared up a bit here and there, no shame in admitting it, when I was asked to bow to my parents. They have given me so much support, more than I could ever ask for. So thank you Mom, thank you Dad. Also a big thanks to my girlfriend, and to my sister. Every one of you is amazing.

So here I am precepted, named, and still Taylor.

Like one of my Teachers so eloquently put it, "This is not a raising up, we do not become saints just because we take these precepts. If anything, we lower ourselves down, if only to put the world on our shoulders and say 'I am here for you'".

Be Well.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Don't Care About Climate Change

On the flip side of "Flockocopolypse" i.e. the huge numbers of animals dying all over the world, I've been asked my opinion on the cause. Granted I am no scientist, but there are some who have stated its more due to strange weather patterns than ya know, the four horsemen.

But that brings me to the main point of this. As an environmentalist and a biologist, I often get thrown the question "So Global Warming... *chuckle*" and as I roll my eyes with EXTRA gusto I am forced to admit, I don't argue for the existence of Global Warming anymore.

I can hear you know, "But TAYLOR!!!! Dude, c'mon you're, yo
u know, Buddhist and sort of Liberal right? Who the hell are you fighting for?!" and I know I know. But chill out friend with poor diction, here's why:

There's no use trying to beat the information into people's head who don't want to hear it. I can't make anyone believe in Climate Change anymore than I can make anyone believe that I'm actually Krishna in the body of a suburban teenager. All I seem to get is information on politicians, not scientists, who say "NO NO NO *plugs ears* LALALALALLA". So basically I'm tired of it.

My other, more effective approach, I feel is the give people something they can see. Like this:

This is the slurry that is created in making coal "clean". Sorry about the shock, I'm sure a similar feeling arose when you found out Fig Newtons contain more bug per weight than any other food except, you know, bugs.

This is the kind of stuff environmentalists need to bring up. Tangible problems. People can deny deny deny that the weather is changing based on the temperature outside, but that CANNOT deny this. We create it. We leave it. We suffer from cadmium, selenium, and mercury poisoning because of it. Plug your ears if you like, it won't make a bit of difference when things like this end up in your water. So, Climate Change or not, we really just need to stop fucking up the Earth.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For You.

Life cannot be rushed
Each moment is only this
Bread, it seems, the same.

Two moving apart
Cannot erase given names -
Father and Mother

For all your good deeds
You expect heaven above
Why not drink your tea?

Be Well.