As I waited outside a classroom today, I read from a textbook (any book with words printed in it is, by definition, a "text" book, but I digress), and a passage in it broke me.
"Imagine you're an 80 year old woman whose husband has just died..."
and suddenly I was there. I was her, grieving at the graveside, sorting his things, hearing his will, and sleeping alone for the first time in 55 years. I felt the tears of loss well up inside me, turn into crushing frustration at our mortal condition, and finally come boiling to the surface as a forceless, helpless rage. Anger is my idiom, so even as an 80 year old woman I'm angry.
How and why, did I suddenly have this powerful feeling of compassion and empathy for an old woman I've never met? (I swear I will break off a size 12 in the ass of the first person who suggests that it is because I am old as well.) Could it be that all the years of meditation have finally soaked in? Perhaps I am actually beginning to put down the warrior role, and move into something more nurturing...
Even just typing that feels odd. Part of me wants to know if there is a way that I can be compassionate and empathetic in a really angry, kick-ass-now-and-take-names-later sort of way... it's a comfortable old suit I've worn for most of my life. Couldn't I be some kind of "nurturing warrior"...?
That's just fear of change talking there. I'm comfortable with being grumpy and ready to fight, but the path is not really about being comfortable, now is it?
In the 12th Century, a Tibetan monk named Chekawa formulated existing proverbs and aphorisms into a set of 57 sayings known as lojong ("mind training"), designed to help seekers connect with the world in a way that is unconditional, possitive, and fully aware. The process of meditating on these sayings came to be called tonglen (in Tibetan 'tong' means 'sending out' or 'letting go' and 'len' means 'receiving' or 'accepting') and it has proven to be a powerful technique for helping practitioners take full responsibility for their experience of the world.
I'll be putting a new saying up at random intervals. Unlike my usual blog posts (which you can forget about almost before you finish reading them), take a minute to think about these.
#1) First, train in the preliminaries.
There are four preliminaries (also called the four reminders):
1) Remember the preciousness of human life.
(only a human can become a Buddha)
2) Remember that life ends; death comes for everyone.
(it sounds obvious, but how many of us actually think about it?)
3) Remember that all actions have a result.
(karma is a bitch)
4) Remember that as long as you are focused on self-importance you will suffer.
(just getting what you want and avoiding what you don't like will not bring happiness)
*The comments that I'll be putting up with them are rarely my own. They are drawn from a host of authors - Pema Chodron, Osho, HHDL, and others.
...but maybe it shouldn't be.
I'm sure faithful readers recall this charming photo of Lord Gayder, buckled up and ready for "battle."
(Remember? Hell, I bet Jim and Zeus have it saved to their Favorites...)
In the interest of fairness and equal time, we are pleased to bring you Darth Vulva...
On Sunday, I visited the Great Stupa at the Shambhala Center near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, with my friend Kim. I'm not sure what I expected, but I was very disturbed by the experience. I have visited many other religious sites, Buddhist, Christian, and otherwise - never have I come away with so little sense of the sacred or the holy. I am disturbed still.
The shape and structure of the building is ancient, but there are modern elements that clash awkwardly; like these doors...
I think the smoked glass and brass fittings just scream "Welcome to the First National Bank of Buddha."
I also found the windows very distracting.
(Click on this one for a better view)
The rest of the structure is very ornate, but the windows are the sort of boring industrial glass you expect on a high-rise. It seems like poor planning - so much time and energy went into the design of the thing, the least they could have done was find windows to match the feel of the building.
Kim pointed out, and rightly so, that a much more sacred feeling could be found by turning your back on the stupa altogether and looking at the trees and hills surrounding it. The immediate setting is beautiful, rugged, and quite tranquil. I really wish there had been some attempt to incorporate natural materials or colors into the design. Instead, the exterior of the building is apparently shaped concrete. There is virtually nothing that could be less spiritual and more jarring to the senses than a great hunk of cotton candy-colored concrete in the midst of the Colorado Rockies.
The whole experience felt very much like a trip to "Epcot Tibet." It reminded me of the little fiberglass cottages around the Matterhorn ride - there was that kind of artificialness to it all, and I couldn't help thinking (as I always do when confronted with gigantic religious expenditures) how many people they could have fed and clothed and educated with all that money.
I realize that this is the resting place of Chogyam Trungpa's skull relic, and as a very important and influential teacher here in the West, he needed/wanted/deserved a burial monument (maybe)... but I just can't get past the idea that the Buddha wouldn't want a 20-foot statue of himself inside a 108-foot structure to be that monument. I'm certainly in no place to speak for the Buddha, but he insisted that his students keep sight of his humanity. ONLY a human can be a Buddha. He was NOT a god, and as such, he has no need of worship. I know that stupas and statues and the rest are supposed to be indicative of remembrance and respect, not worship, but that line has gotten very blurred.
Cancel my sepulchre - the Black Pope will be planted in a plain pine box...
We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to bring you this breaking story...
The Hopeless Romantic, well known webcomic artist, penguin fighter, and noted metrosexual is, in fact, straight. Film at eleven.
(Actually, we don't have any film. Sorry.)
I like perfume, particularly vanilla scents. I love the flavor of vanilla, so it stands to reason that if a woman smells like a dessert, I'll enjoy it.
While surfing, I discoverd a perfume that might be working on the same flavor/scent principle. I love the flavor, but I'm not so sure about it as a fragrance for women...
*Bottom of page is NWS (once you figure out what you're looking at)
In the future you'll be notifyin' me of such holidays in advance, savvy?
Asian movie extras practice leaping before an explosion? I got nothing here...
Scary doll. Scary doll in pink. Scary doll from Mandyland. With encephalitis.
One for all the fans of Aqua Teen Hungerforce and um... balls.
By the way, the black template is temporary. I've been wanting to change my template for some time now - maybe sommething with naked nuns killing heathens - and this will force me to get it done. Gone are the crappy Haloscan comments and trackback. Links to other blogs will be back as soon as possible.
Click to enlarge
In honor of my biggest kite's first flight this evening, we have this cautionary tale about big kites and big wind ...
Both photos by Gina
Since The Hopeless Romantic called me out, here we go...
THREE NAMES YOU GO BY
2. Linus Furious
3. HSBP (His Sinfulness the Black Pope)
THREE SCREEN NAMES YOU HAVE HAD AND THE RATIONALE BEHIND THEM
1. Linus - despite the obvious coolness of the name, there are damn few folks named Linus out there. Once you rule out Torvald, Pauling, and Van Pelt, I'm next in line.
2. LFurious - Sometimes a Peanuts fan registers before me.
3. Rene Michel - In a previous life I used to fence dressed as a poofter from France...
THREE THINGS YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF
1. My mind
2. My multitude of sins
3. My boundless rage
THREE THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF
1. My mind - It's hard to be happy when you're smart enough to see through the BS.
2. My multitude of sins - True forgiveness is hard to grant yourself.
3. My boundless rage - I used to be an angry young man... I'm not so young anymore.
THREE PARTS OF YOUR HERITAGE
1. Irish - We are quite proud of our genetic predisposition to mental illness and addictive behavior.
2. Scottish - Kilts, pipe bands, and throwing heavy objects for sport - what's not to like?
3. Southern - Being from North Carolina leaves a stain on the soul that no amount of snow can wash away.
THREE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU
2. Grad School
3. Meeting Christin's mother.
THREE OF YOUR EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS
1. Nalgene bottle
2. MP3 player
3. a knife
THREE THINGS YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW
1. Kilt - Forest green Amerikilt today. I love the matching sporran.
2. "Jesus helps me trick people" t-shirt - Diesel Sweeties rocks.
3. Baby powder - Must avoid the stickiness...
THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS
(This question is ridiculously hard. Ask me tomorrow and the answers will all be different.)
1. The Beatles
2. Counting Crows
THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS
(See comment above.)
1. "Across the Universe" by the Beatles
2. "Free Will" by Rush
3. "Rain King" by Counting Crows
NEW THINGS YOU WANT TO TRY IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS
1. Traction kites - Kite surfing, buggying, land boards, etc.
2. Driving to Ohio
3. A vegan diet
THREE THINGS YOU WANT IN A RELATIONSHIP
1. Love I can count on
Good Great Sex
3. Intellectual compatibility
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order)
1. I was in a fatal car accident
2. I was in a train accident
3. I was an accident
THREE THINGS ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX THAT APPEAL TO YOU
1. Some of them find me amusing/appealing
2. They can sing higher than I can.
3. They usually smell good
THREE THINGS YOU JUST CAN'T DO
1. Get off the internet
2. Manage money properly
3. Turn down a good fight
THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES
THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO REALLY BADLY RIGHT NOW
1. Fly my new kite
2. Have lunch
3. Graduate (is it December yet?)
THREE CAREERS YOU'RE CONSIDERING
2. Kite tester (I hear this pays big bucks...)
THREE PLACES YOU WANT TO GO ON VACATION
THREE CHILDREN'S NAMES YOU'VE CONSIDERED FOR YOUR KIDS
THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE
1. Publish a book
2. See the lands the Buddha walked
3. Live in Ireland
THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A GIRL
1. I have many stuffed animals (Secretly I talk to them. Some answer.)
2. I cry at
the movies the drop of a hat
3. I love to cook
THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A BOY
1. I'm big as a house
2. I scratch myself inappropriately
3. I am constantly girl watching (You should see the brunette who is working in the student learning center here in Washakie right now... wow.)
THREE PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS QUIZ
The Hopeless Romantic suggested this... and I think it's a good idea. You go to
this site and get a list of the top 100 songs from the year you graduated. You post that to your blog, with a strike-over through the ones you don't like.
By Black Papal Decree, there shall be no comments about the year His Sinfulness graduated from high school...
Top 100 Songs of 1983
1. Every Breath You Take, Police
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Flashdance... What A Feelin, Irene Cara
4. Down Under, Men At Work
Beat It, Michael Jackson
6. Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bonnie Tyler
7. Maneater, Daryl Hall and John Oates
Baby Come To Me, Patti Austin and James Ingram
Maniac, Michael Sembello
10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Eurythmics
11. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club
You And I, Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
13. Come On Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners
14. Shame On The Moon, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
She Works Hard For The Money, Donna Summer
Never Gonna Let You Go, Sergio Mendes
17. Hungry Like The Wolf, Duran Duran
18. Let's Dance, David Bowie
19. Twilight Zone, Golden Earring
I Know There's Something Going On, Frida
21. Jeopardy, Greg Kihn Band
22. Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant
23. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby
24. Africa, Toto
25. Little Red Corvette, Prince
26. Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders
Up Where We Belong, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
28. Mr. Roboto, Styx
29. ,strike>You Are, Lionel Richie
30. Der Kommissar, After The Fire
31. Puttin' On The Ritz, Taco
32. Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye
33. (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League
34. Time (Clock Of The Heart), Culture Club
35. The Safety Dance, Men Without Hats
36. Mickey, Toni Basil
You Can't Hurry Love, Phil Collins
38. Separate Ways, Journey
39. One On One, Daryl Hall and John Oates
40. We've Got Tonight, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
41. 1999, Prince
42. Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
43. Allentown, Billy Joel
44. Stand Back, Stevie Nicks
45. Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
46. Always Somethmg There To Remind Me, Naked Eyes
Truly, Lionel Richie
Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
49. The Girl Is Mine, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
Too Shy, Kajagoogoo
51. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
52. Rock The Casbah, Clash
53. Our House, Madness
Overkill, Men At Work
55. Is There Something I Should Know, Duran Duran
Gloria, Laura Branigan
Affair Of The Heart, Rick Springfield
58. She's A Beauty, Tubes
Solitaire, Laura Branigan
Don't Let It End, Styx
How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Laura Branigan
62. China Girl, David Bowie
63. Come Dancing, Kinks
64. Promises, Promises, Naked Eyes
The Other Guy, Little River Band
Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, Air Supply WTF?
67. Family Man, Daryl Hall and John Oates
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Michael Jackson
I Won't Hold You Back, Toto
All Right, Christopher Cross
71. Straight From The Heart, Bryan Adams
72. Heart To Heart, Kenny Loggins
My Love, Lionel Richie
74. I'm Still Standing, Elton John
Hot Girls In Love, Loverboy
76. It's A Mistake, Men At Work
77. I'll Tumble 4 Ya, Culture Club
All This Love, Debarge
79. Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Sammy Hagar
Heartbreaker, Dionne Warwick
81. Faithfully, Journey
82. Steppin' Out, Joe Jackson
83. Take Me To Heart, Quarterflash
84. (She's) Sexy + 17, Stray Cats
Try Again, Champaign
Dead Giveaway, Shalamar
87. Lawyers In Love, Jackson Browne
What About Me, Moving Pictures
Human Nature, Michael Jackson
Photograph, Def Leppard
91. Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth
92. True, Spandau Ballet
Far From Over, Frank Stallone
I've Got A Rock 'N' Roll Heart, Eric Clapton
It Might Be You, Stephen Bishop
Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
97. You Got Lucky, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Don't Cry, Asia
99. Breaking Us In Two, Joe Jackson
Fall In Love With Me, Earth, Wind and Fire
It's been years since I've heard "Electric Avenue"... and what ever happened to Dexy's Midnight Runners?
I make no apologies for the Journey songs on this list, and I proudly claim Hall and Oates, Cluture Club, and the Tubes as some of my favorites. Actually, when you add up the songs on this list by Bowie, Joe Jackson, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, the Clash, Adam Ant, and the Stray Cats, 1983 looks like a banner year for pop music. Pass the dutchie, indeed.
I was playing some mahjong with the boys down in Legal the other day, and things got ugly. One of the lawyers accused a paralegal of cheating, and knives were drawn. After some quick cutting, we were down one lawyer.
It was as they were stuffing his corpse into a couple garbage bags that I realized that the ministry was soon going to face a problem. After your personality is transplanted into one of our cybernetic bodies, what will become of your mortal coil? We here at the Ministry continually strive to prepare the Flock for the future, but we failed to take this into account. We have to do something with all those bodies...
I kicked this around with the lawyers a bit. We talked about various possibilities -cadaver sculpture, selling bones to billiard ball companies, soylent green - but discarded each for liability and/or PR reasons.
Eventually we came to the conclusion that members of the Flock want to experience everything life has to offer. They want to have it all, drink it deep, and push it to the extreme - and physical death, decay, and even funerals are a part of that vast panorama (I think some guys from Advertising must have been there too). We made some calls, and it turns out that funerals are big business, so naturally the Ministry wants to be there when your bereaved whips out the Visa.
The conversation kind of broke down at this point... some of us were pretty hammered by then, and before I knew it I was drinking mezcal off a stripper's boobs in Guadalajara, betting on a cock fight. Hell of a weekend. The tattoo removal alone is going to cost me thousands - but I digress. We did come up with a way to help the Flock prepare for their physical passing...
Behold - the tombstone generator. I whipped up this little beauty for myself:
Ok, so it's still a work in progress, but it's a start. Show us what you want on your tombstone - because you never know when you might want your friends to know that sort of thing. Your next mahjong game could turn fatal too...