Now I'm going to take a couple of minutes, finally, to write some and wouldn't ya know it I pick something so deep I might be smart to let it be. But who ever accused me of being smart, eh? Here's the deal: I recently sent some money to a group which works to free Tibet and protect the people there from the Chinese crackdown/genocide. Normally I would send money to people like this, progressive political groups, women's rights etc. I'm a dewy eyed liberal in social matters. Somebody has to be. Well, this got me on a list and now they are offering me lots of liberal magazines at 90% price breaks. Not bad, I subscribe to Nation and I'm happy with it. Sometimes it's a good idea to surround yourself with positive reinforcement of your deeply held beliefs. That's why Christians go to church dinners and Buddhists chant in groups. Actually there's a nuance of reasons for these things but let's not go there. I got this nice invitation to subscribe to Shambhala Sun, a Buddhist magazine. I was myself a practicing Buddhist for many years, chanting in an incense scented room, meditating and so forth. Not eating meat. It was nice, like dating a beautiful woman, but we grew apart and agreed to be friends. So I'm thinking about tossing in $20 for the magazine. Why not? In this packet of reasons for getting this thing was a commentary by Pema Chodron. The "o's" have double dots over them but I can't find that font so bear with me. This commentary has "four reminders" that they suggest you think about and make part of your life. Very nice.
On reading the commentaries I discovered that I just could not quite wrap my head around some of the points. Let me explain.
"Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life..." the first one begins. As Jess would say, "This smacks of speciesism." That is to say, why "human life"? Isn't animal and plant life the same part of Creation, a bit of manifestation of the Cosmic All? Then I wondered, "Preciousness? What means this term?" Why is any life to be considered precious? Oh yeah, valuable to those impacted by it, sure. Living grains are important to living omnivores and living plankton certainly precious to living whales, but overall it seems to me that preciousness is a bit over the top. Hell, there's something like 6 billion people living right now and many of them are busy dying, like all living things must do. I would expect something precious to be more rare than that. I immediately thought of an Ocean of Life and each wave comes and sparkles in the light of the Sun, and then it falls back into the Ocean and never comes back quite the same way. So in that respect you might say it is rare, but then so is any one individual grain of sand. Never two alike, right? So individual human life is common as sand and rare as a sparkle of light. But "precious" I am not sure about. Is it me or is this somehow a bit arrogant to suggest that human life is precious and not mention the rest of life? Then to say Life is precious indicates that somehow life goes away. Life is part of the Great Circle, it never can go away. The body fails, the worms feed on your nose and they fail and bacteria or birds feed on them and so on and so on. Life never leaves the building, it just puts on a new suit. So I can't say I would be able to carry with me the idea of the preciousness of human life.
"Be aware of the reality that life ends; death comes for everyone..." Well I think I covered that above. Life never ends, it just begins again. Yes, the illusion of death comes to all that lives, the curtain comes between you and your past life, but you are still walking along the Path, you just don't look the same. That's my take on it and certain dead people have indicated to me that I'm not off the mark. I'm not using a revelation here, just cold logic. Everything that ever lived is still here, it just looks different. Like a nice berry pie... you got a bush with green fruit. They turn red and fall into your hand. You have ground up grains in a sack and some oils from another plant. Mix it up and partly oxidize it in an oven at 350 for a few minutes and you got a pie. A man eats the pie, relishing the sweet berries and thinking of that summer afternoon with his sweetheart, laughing and picking berries and eating the big ones. Next day some brownish, smelly crap leaves the man and is flushed away to the septic tank. The smell is that of living bacteria eating the rest of the pie. The septic tank moves the berry residue into the leach field where it transpires to the soil and is sucked by roots into the vines of a grape. A year rolls by and the man is sipping wine and remembering a summer afternoon.... it goes on and on. I repeat: Life cannot ever stop, it can only change.
"Recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not, has a result, what comes around, goes around." Well, ya want to argue about the definition of "virtue"? No, that term is so subjective the phrase has no meaning. Actions have results is a shorter version, but what else is new? Show me how an action in the field of Being could be so isolated as to have no result, even on the actor. Really, this is meaningless, except the part about going around is close enough to my previous rant about life that we can make it part of that "reminder". Then the piece goes into karma and such, which is a vastly different concept from cause and effect. Many faiths do not have karma, Christians deal with sin instead, and judgment. I think it's all hooey. You do things that have results. You die and become immaterial-spirit. You decide if you want to go down the chute again or stay where you are. Maybe you'd like to be a better human, like maybe not a war criminal this time. Maybe you'd like to be a bird and get that flying thing worked out. Heck, you have an infinite amount of time to try, why not do something novel next time? It seems so logical to me you could say it's a no-brainer. Why would my son decide to come back as a brain injured individual with not a lot of future and maybe a lot of pain? Who knows, I'll ask him if he dies before me. I'm sure at some level he had a plan. Just off hand I think I'm going to have to come back as an innocent gal so I can see what it feels like when some horny meatball guy lies to get into your pants and then never calls back. I have done things like that and it hurts my head to think of it. I'd like to contact them all and apologize for being ruled by my cock instead of my brain, but as I said to Jess men have a limited amount of blood and it takes a certain amount to think and a certain amount to get a hard on. It's an either-or situation. Not my fault, I knew better when we started flirting but by the time we kissed I had the IQ of a Cro-magnon and the willpower of an opium fiend. I'm really sorry, I feel terrible about it and I have tried to do better as I aged, but Karen, if you are out there reading this, please understand that when I was 19 and you were 16 I did the best I could with what I had to work with. It wasn't up to the task.
"Contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will suffer. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don't want does not result in happiness." Okay, let's wonder here about the term "too focussed". When is enough too much? Not sure based on this reminder. Is she saying we should not think about being good? Why not? I try to be good every day, with the caveat that as long as I don't get a hard on I should be able to think of good things to do. Seems reasonable to me or I would not be trying. Thinking about being bad? Like Cheney can see his badness? He shot his "friend" in the face and got the victim to apologize to the family of the shooter! Oh, I have to call that bad, not good. Focusing on some quality you feel would serve your loved ones and humanity at large seems to me to be a good path to follow. That's why I send money we need for beer and sweets to children in Tibet for band aids and butter. Extremes of any kind can be bad, but that is, after all, the meaning of extreme. So don't obsess about anything. It's not easy when your dick is hard, so men have to try to catch the good ideas before checking out the cute red headed chick in the hot pants. But it can be done. I hear Buddhists make excellent lovers. Lastly I note that if we fail to avoid that which we do not want, will we not be surrounding ourselves with things we do not want and therefor we should not be very happy (happy being a good thing in this argument)? I don't want a metal screw in my finger, I don't want my finger to not bend any more. I obsess about the fact that if I am not focused on the damn thing it rises straight up on it's own like a 19 year old cock looking at a Playboy spread. I have to focus on getting it back in place so I can try to stretch the freaking tendons and gain some control over it. As of now the tendons are winning the fight, but I have an appointment for some occupational therapy and maybe they can talk to it.
A friend of mine suggests i place crystals on it every day and chant the chakras. I have chanted the chakras at various times in my life, because I wanted to be a good Buddhist and I wanted to be good. The net result was that I felt very enlightened and good while I was trying to convince a 16 year old girl with a truly good heart that it would be good for both of us if she allowed me to violate her special purpose. Chanting doesn't help if down deep inside you have chemicals flowing about that reduce your mind to a neolithic level. Jon could have chanted all morning seven years ago and still without the seat belt he still would have flown through the windshield and shattered his links to a functioning human life. That life is precious to me and I obsess about it, I focus my energies on how to make things better for him, and while I obsess on that I see my finger slowly lifting up, pointing towards heaven, or possibly asking for permission to leave the room. I don't know, I only can wonder. It's a karma of some kind, this world we live in and we should be satisfied that right or wrong, good or bad, when we divest ourselves of this mortal coil we will feed some other life and pass on the virtue of living.
Be careful flying over water, but don't obsess about it. Focus on the ride and enjoy the good view.