Saturday, May 31, 2008
(As you watch the monks creating this most gorgeous sand painting, I would like to encourage you to leave a comment on this blog. I always like knowing what you think.)
If the Hope van seems like a small thing to you, you probably never needed it. I am thinking how exciting it is to have medical care available when I do not have the money.
As a result of my past few weeks, I learned that I can apply for CMSP. This is a California sponsored County administered health care program. Now, every county in California has access to CMSP. Every county has someone working to provide health care to the poor. Everyone on SSI has access to Medicare, and many people with disabilities gets MediCal insurance coverage.
The ability to get important medical care is available to many people. It is full of bureaucracy. There are copious forms to fill out, and verification is needed of everything from your income to what assets you own, how many bills you pay, and where you live. Still, after listening to all of you, I have received comments from many people telling me my health is not just my business.
I was told that for the sake of all the people who assist me, take money from me, give money to me, employ me, and pay taxes to assist me, I have a responsibility to take care of my health. These are not casual comments of people concerned about whether or not I am feeling well.
This is a dynamic universe, and with my negative comments on the Secret, some my be inclined to believe I do not think of the universe as a place with dynamic, creative energy. I do. I think many things come up from people's imaginations, people's actions, people's dreams. I believe that the true creativity comes from not dressing up our paths for success in metaphysical talk unfounded in any reasonable standard of science.
I want people to foster their dreams, and I want them to create their destinies. I want everyone to enjoy lives of abundance. I believe that we can create more things with positive attitudes than negative ones.
The bottom line of this account is simply every thought you have will manifest significantly in your actions. Whenever great changes, positive changes occur in a person's life, it is common for people to attribute it to miraculous or spectacular causes. There does not seem to be any reason to believe that that is true.
Of the following I have learned much:
Shakti Gawain teaches how to visualize the world I want, and the person I want to be.
Anthony Robbins teaches much on how to change my physiology to handle situations differently.
Zig Ziglar has written much on how to utilize faith while carrying concrete management skills while achieving your goals.
Peter F. Drucker wrote on the science of effective management.
Already I feel my list too long. I have no interest in reading from (and many do do it) multiple affirmation books a day. My dreams are being developed as I write, through goal setting, and realizing the anger and sadness that kept me from acting on this stuff before.
Anyone can find people they trust to learn from. Anyone can get bogged down in what Robbins called “impotent” goals. I have had goals that did not inspire me. But, I live in a time where I will no longer take uninvited advice from multiple sources, because that will only confuse and slow my progress. I found the people that make sense, and inspire me. I would be a fool to listen to a whole mess of advice, especially from those unable to truly grasp what I am, and what I hope to accomplish.
Thank you for reading.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I am very positive about the changes occurring in my life. I am learning more and more about living happily and functionally in this world each day. One exciting development is the emergence of many past friends into my world after thinking, what has happened to them.
Oh, it is a wild time for me. Here I have friends, my roommate included, asking me the most annoying questions. I spent the bulk of the morning in a discussion over many of them. Here is a sampling of the questions I fielded in the hour preceding my first cup of coffee:
What do you dislike so much about The Secret?
Is there anything particularly wrong or harmful about believing something that cannot be proven true?
Keith, you are a Catholic. Even you said you cannot prove the existence of God, and yet you promote those skeptics on your website, people who would have no understanding of your persistence in belief despite the lack of scientific facts to support it. How do you reconcile this?
If the ideas of The Secret are contained in so many of the other books you have read, why do you feel so strongly against this one?
If these people want to believe that The Secret works, because of some scientifically unsupported ideas using little understood Quantum Theory to give it a sense of legitimacy, then is there any reason why that should bother you?
What do you have against positive thinking? (Answer: nothing. I think Norman Vincent Peale spoke more credibly, and more effectively, on the subject than these people called to talk in The Secret dvd).
You love that book by Shakti Gawain on Creative Visualization. She talks about the same stuff as The Secret, and you have no qualms with her. Why is that? (Answer: Her book is thirty years old, and does not demand we rid ourselves of all “negative thought.” He book has no bizarre cult following it, and she does not make weird claims using terms like Quantum Theory of Quantum Mechanics to give her ideas some kind of fake legitimacy)
Okay, this discussion did leave me a little exhausted, and I have to admit my exhaustion shows in my spirit, a little resistance to this inquiry. Does that mean I have flaws in my thinking?
Of course not!
(I hear guffaws already, and I have not even published this, yet)
The Secret is a personal sore spot to me. I had a woman lecture me on trying to change me to what she deemed was the “right” way of thinking (ie. The Law of Attraction) for years. If that does not sour you to a philosophy, then you are a better person than I. The Secret still talks about things in a metaphysical manner I do not support. I have a belief that if this works for you, then do it.
Fourteen years ago a man, a charismatic Christian I met in a 12 step meeting, laid hands on me, and prayed over me, talked to me about his belief in God. I told him I was impressed that he did not talk about this stuff in the regular groups, that he only discussed iot with me when I asked him about it.
He told me, “Keith, if I did it any other way, it would not work.”
I share my ideas, and until now, I have tried to avoid sharing advice. I learned from people in 12-step groups how to truly Live and Let Live. So, when I write this, I am going to say my lesson for me is simply this:
If you have something that works well for you, share it freely if anyone asks.
In conclusion, I have to say I feel a bit deflated by all this. I know it is truly my own poison that makes me attack the Secret. I like Shakti Gawain, and will start to apply some of her ideas to my life. I like the ideas of the vision board, the positive thinking. I could use a little more of that.
As for my medical. Much is showing positive results in my life. I had let my cell phone run out of credits, and my doctor, from the HOPE van came to my home, to make sure I was able to schedule my CAT scan when he was unable to call me. How is that for going the extra mile?
Monday, May 26, 2008
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes,
And like a bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.
Bill S. (1623)
I would no doubt take flak, quoting from anything that promotes offending others as a skill, as a virtue, especially in a day and age where watchers of the New Age dvd , The Secret, propose we need to be rid of all negativity or else we will fail to achieve any of our goals. It is in this passage, though I find a lot of thrill, a lot of encouragement. One should never be bound by the harsh pronouncements of others. The most horrible people I have had the ill fortune to meet are gratefully gone from my life.
I like this passage, because I have no benefits to gain by pretending I am without fault. I am not here to pretend I am shining, especially after my months of uninspired, or spitefully inspired writing. I laugh, because my blog is getting random hits from search engines, and in a sense, many are coming here to my mixed thinking, my egocentric ramblings....and many come back.
My hope, reading from brother Bill above, is that I, too, will have a reformation. My hope is I am, always working towards becoming a better me. I remember when I was in San Jose, and I was a part of the efforts of Sacred Heart Community Service. I got to volunteer for an organization that simply, quietly, thanked me for the work I did, and always was able to give me something useful to do whenever I was feeling idle.
Of course, reading from Henry above, I am forced to ask, is this man striving for a true turn around, or is he planning a spin doctor effort to capitalize off some effort when his press coverage would be good. With friends talking to me, lovingly, about my last discussion on integrity, many have marvelous anecdotes of my failures, my disjointed behaviors, my own moments where my oneness would be in question.
I told you, and will continue to mention throughout time. I am quite content to accept my humanness. I am thrilled to think that if people think well of me, it will be because (this may rub some people the wrong way) I am taking right actions. I say this may bother some, because there is a fixation we have on the righteousness of people's motives. I am certain that though my motives may seem significant to many of you, it is my actions that will have impact on your lives.
Twice I have received discussions from readers where there was a statement, almost written word for word the same, and that was this declaration that everyone lives with their own truths. I do not know what the value of such a statement is, especially if we get rid of this bizarre fixation with people's motives, or better still, the characterization of a person over the nature of his motives.
In such a case, the man's motives are not even up for examination. All we get is his analysis of how good, bad, virtuous, or scandalous he deems his motives to be. That is why I said so long ago that we need to dispense with the discussion of motives altogether.
Knowing that from a logical standpoint, I am able to be judged just on the character of my actions. I am quite content with the most basic guideline in American law books , which assert still that a person can be convicted of committing any unlawful act, provided that that person has the capacity to know right from wrong. By the same standard, if I am capable of understanding right from wrong in social situations, work situations, or political situations, then I should be bound to the social standards of the place and time.
Life seems to become less complicated when no one has to listen to me moan, yeah, I fucked up, but my intentions were so good.... If you wanted to throw up, I understand. The issue of bullshit versus integrity becomes a non issue when we are able to evaluate an wrong action based on the qualities of the action itself, and the capacity of the actor to know better.
I have taken some shots at some people as I have been writing. I know I was not always righteous in what I wrote. I know, because I have people who wrote in to tell me so. My failures will remain online for examination. So, about all these people, concerned about everyone having their own truth, I have one thing to say: If your truth causes you to take action against me, and I am not feeling like a good christian, I will take action against you. No one's personal truths need to be examined or evaluated under that. Simplicity, truly, is the key.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
“Bullshitters, although they represent themselves as being engaged simply in conveying information, are not engaged in that enterprise at all. Instead, and most essentially, they are fakers and phonies who are attempting by what they say to manipulate the opinions of those to whom they speak. What they care about primarily, therefore, is whether what they say is effective in accomplishing this manipulation. Correspondingly, they are more or less indifferent to whether what they say is true or whether it is false.” Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit
I suppose reading the words of Harry Frankfurt, professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton, I am placed in a position of asking myself, most importantly, how strongly do I feel about what I am saying. I have always believed that there are times -when faced with my own habits of thinking- Imust accept that I am a lazy thinker. I have to read and think critically about the ideas of others only so I can train my mind to retain some minimal level of objectivity.
It is comforting that when I was so horribly pissed off in the past months, people ignored and tolerated my lapses in logic. People accepted that rationalizing with an angry man is pointless. Still, after all that time, the only responsibility I had, was to improve my outlook if I did not want to bore and scare off what few people I was meeting online.
My roommate, reading one of the few posts I wrote here, months ago, looked at the positive characterization of myself, and exclaimed “what bullshit!” It is in hearing those words, I got to ask myself , how well does Frankfurt's parameters -defining this phenomena- work in defining me, what I do . He states in his article that bullshit is everywhere, that everyone claims to be able to spot it, but no one can define it.
Frankfurt himself works hard to rein in bull shit to where, a basic understanding of it, a basic outline of how we recognize it, what its purpose is, and why is it so pervasive, so repulsive under normal circumstances.
I have a friend who twice told me “I do not like having my integrity questioned.” I suppose if I am honest, have to admit I do not like my integrity being questioned. I also, can imagine I would not like being audited by the Revenue Department. Simply, I am grateful that I wake up reasonably satisfied with the person I am.
My belief is that if I have to make declarations like “I do not like anyone questioning my integrity” that perhaps that statement is a piece of bullshit, aimed at attempting to intimidate, elicit a response. I suppose if someone says something to intimidate me, I could say that my bullshit detector goes off, a quiet sense that whatever was said, indifferent to the truth, but meant, solely, to deflect investigation.
But, honesty (maybe not.... uh oh) forces me to move back to myself, and the discussion. Of course my own aversion to genuine self-reflection means I have to look back at past paragraphs to remember what I had asked... Well, when I look at myself, I ask the question, am I truly indifferent to the truth in what I am saying.This question is the one where I see of what my integrity is built. I read a book years ago on integrity, and was startled when I discovered the base of the word is integer (one). Integrity is about a unity, a oneness. Am I unified? Do I have oneness in my thoughts and behaviors? When I speak(or write), do I glibly write stuff, indifferent to the truth of what I am saying? Is all that I write , solely aimed at guiding your impression of me? Well, there is a good chance that that may be true . But, in questions of integrity, I believe that true oneness, a person never tempted to lie, mischaracterize, is rare (if not nonexistent).
So, why all my fixation on honesty? I guess I have to deal with my own motives on that. I have had too many people listen, as I discuss the motives of others, and say, “Keith, did you not say that why they do what they do is none of your business?” Then I am forced to eat my words and look stupid.
So, if you say you want to question my honesty, fine. If you choose to audit my integrity, excellent. I know the day will come when my books will look pretty good. In the meantime, I will keep writing.
I have promised others and I promised myself that I would take care of my health, so from here, I have more chances to build on this oneness. Tomorrow I go to the HOPE van to schedule my CAT scan. More updates from here.
Thank you for reading.
Monday, May 19, 2008
The HOPE van, and enormous traveling clinic for Health Outreach to People Everywhere! Actually only serves Shasta County, but the fact is this program is very dynamic, and quite exciting for anyone who has difficulty affording medical care.
The program has been in effect for about six years, though the actual HOPE van has only been a part of the program for about two years. Built by Lifeline Emergency Vehicles out of Ohio, this traveling clinic is built on a large Truck chassis with two exam rooms a reception space where vital signs can be taken. Other similar clinics have been fashioned from RV models. This vehicle is bigger, and in some ways a little unwieldy for travel. Still, it is heavy duty and quite serviceable.
Because it was fashioned on a truck chassis, the driver is a nurse who quite fashionably has a California Type B driver's license.
During my visit, there was a Shasta County social worker, who was able to assist patients in preparing for getting Medi-Cal or CMSP (county medical assistance). The doctors are able to do some things through the hospital, but the doctors all have the social workers on speed dial, when there is a question of a person being denied help through lack of coverage.
What I am saying is the left hand does work hard to know what the right hand is doing. They want all visitors to get the best care possible, and work to find out what avenues must be opened, explored, to make that happen. They assured me they want me to see a neurologist, and when they discovered that I have not gotten on that was lack of coverage, they had me on the phone with a woman who called me hours later to ask me questions about my application, and an assurance I would have coverage by nightfall.
So, in the weeks coming, they will scan my brain (find evidence if any is still there), and refer me to neurology. This is a journey. I am here, I guess, to enjoy it.
This is a good day! I have bicycled successfully out to the HOPE van, and am now able to relax. As a result of my visit, I have been assured of a few things:
My liver is fine
My kidneys are fine
I am not diabetic
My medication is working properly.
As a result of my visit, I can move forward, and know that despite some of the scary things said (“I believe this may have something to do with your shunt”) that I can still live comfortable in my skin. As I have been reminded, I only live one day at a time.
Too many of my early years were eaten up by fears over this extra plumbing in my head. I suppose this is where I see how my philosophizing pans out. I told myself that worrying about my brain did not stop them from drilling holes in my head twelve years ago. So, I guess I would be silly to worry about it now. Remember, it is just a plumbing issue.
(“If you can't fix it with a hammer, the problem is electrical.”)
I must remember that the Stanford trained neurosurgeons that saved my life in 1995 have more developed ideas on tool management and problem solving than I do. This is where I give up control.
Thank you for reading.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
In this day and age, I am thinking how bizarre it is that with all the time I have been online, I have remained, successfully, isolated. Many of my most exciting interactions have been out of my state, out of the country I call my home. So, here I am , in my fifth, maybe sixth year online, and I am finding (actually they are finding me) people I have not seen in twenty years.
For those of you reading about the harassment I am getting from others in my life, I am off to the doctor's again in the morning.
To assure you that essentially I am okay, I want you to know (cuz I can be unclear) that my basic health is okay. My body functions quite well. I am concerned about my motor functions. I am concerned about my equilibrium. I am certain I need to wear good shoes when I ride my bicycle.
Those who write in and are praying for me.... No one has been hurt for praying too much. I do feel a gratitude for the wonderful thoughts I am getting from several different continents. But, as for my little fall the other day:
I was on uneven ground, and perched on my bike in front of a white truck. I fell over on attempting my start. I am still quite healthy, aside from road rash, on my elbows, and bruised inner arm.
I have my county medical assistance, and good doctors who want to get me to a neurologist, and we will not know anything until we know anything. They want to CAT scan my brain. My friend in Massachusetts says they should do a PET scan. One man told me, perhaps I have an inner ear problem. Another thinks my legs are at fault. Of course, one man says I need to lose weight and everything will be better. I am blessed that I live someplace where so much free medical advice is available.
The lady in the HOPE van will have the results from the preliminary blood tests. I am glad I will get to find out if after so much time on antiseizure medication, that my liver is doing okay. I told my friend that doctors are not miracle workers, and she said that God can use anyone to accomplish healings and miracles, even doctors. My mother told me that I cannot find out anything if I do not go... I do not fight with my Mom.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I was reflecting on my statement that I would have the whole world as my accountability group. I, of course, say that tongue in cheek. But I know, with the exception of my closest family and friends, no one really holds me accountable for anything... Clever stunt. I can act like I am being all honest, all proactive. But, when I get a text message this morning asking me if I was ready to go to the doctors again... well I knew I was falling behind in my resolve.
I said, you know, going to the doctor is not all that important. I have had these problems a long time. I said, it is no big deal. I said, everything happens in God's good time... Just read my last post for clarity on that one. I get afraid, and one of the things I do not like, is seeing doctors without medical insurance, without knowing what is wrong (am I crazy?), and without knowing how long it will take to get me back to reasonably full function.
In the past months I have lost hours on my weekly schedule due to my reduced production. It is amazing how easy it is to ignore such things even when my income is reduced to ridiculously low levels.
So, I hopped on the next bus, got in with the social worker, and will be with a doctor Monday morning... He will have my lab work in hand, and we can see where I have to go from there.
As for pressing issues:
If walking had not deteriorated I would not see this as pressing. I am thinking about my visualization, how I am staying optimistic, how I am moving in the right directions.
I told my friend, who admonished me this morning for not being at the doctor's office, that I fell from a stopped position on my bike, almost rolling under the wheel of a big white pickup. The driver, a man with lightening reflexes swerved to avoid me. So, my body is indeed a pressing issue in need of immediate attention.
I will not be so foolish as to suggest otherwise. The driver, a painter named Ezra, was quite content to throw my bike in his truck, and get me to my destination.... I would say that as embarrassed as I am to admit these things, I have to know that the world is full of good people, and I am truly blessed to be alive.
Thank you for reading.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Bertrand Russell stated that it is harmful to believe in anything for which there is no evidence. Every day I think to him, to Sam Harris, to Richard Dawkins, and it is an awkward conflict. I appreciate the thoughts of the scientific, of the skeptical, of the religiously logical. I am thinking of how much I have had to work with different models over the years of my life. None of the men mentioned above would ever be shy expressing their feelings as pertains faith, the failings of religion, of believing what -for them - is a system of beliefs which has caused much more damage in time than has ever accomplished for the good.
I am well aware that in order to claim that logic has limitations, I would by default have to abandon logic in my analysis of anything(of course that could be fallacious reasoning, and where would that leave me? LOL). Yet, when the truth is told, I have abandoned logic to achieve things I never would have thought possible within the constraints of the logic framework. No one ever suggested to me that walking away from logic analysis would be hazardous, but after a while it becomes startling to listen to irrational claims people try to justify.
I say, then, that I have become compromised in my belief in God. I am compromised in a belief there is an afterlife. I am compromised, also in that as passionate a man I am, I am most passionate in my own personal agnosticism. It is amazing that reading from the likes of Sam Harris, I am amazed at how the greatest fodder to life-changing philosophies are those people whose lives are falling apart. People lose a wife, almost die from drug addiction, distraught over their own sexual identity, or stand on a precipice, certain that spiritually, physically, economically, or emotionally, they are ruined.
I got to tell you that if I was a hard core proselyter (I think I made up that word) A person like that would be a prize. Just like in sales, that person is ripe for closure. I can become that man's best friend, and in a moment I would work my magic. Within a week, I would have that man in a suit, and he would be on the recruiter line for the cause.... Book in his hand, testimony in his heart, and all the winning sincerity he needs to bring in all the people from his past life, suffering from all the same crises from which he had just been saved.
This is just how to work whether you are recruiting in the military, in multi-level marketing, or the nearby church. I am amazed how even in the world of non-denominational churches there is a lot of back-biting. I listen to one of my friends who hates people from one group, because they scorned family members of his when he was a child. I was thinking how my experiences were not as dramatic, though walking around in my job, I was getting stopped almost daily by people who wanted me to stop working so they could touch my leg and pray for me. (“well er ah, I just happened to notice you have a bit of a limp...).
Even then , the prayer would not be so exhausting if I did not haver to listen to the questions afterwards.... “So... Do you feel any different? Walk around a bit.”
Still, with all that, I stand firm in my belief that there is a Creator. I like going to Church. I know that skeptics would shake their heads in disgust, knowing that at least in the minds of Harris and Dawkins, people like me are the perpetrators of the worst sins. I am passionate in my fence sitting. I am passionate in knowing that I do not know. I am passionate in knowing I do not ignore, or deny the screwed up things people across the world in the name of whatever God was available when they were saved from their own personal crisis.
I just know that when a man is in crisis, whoever gets to him with the most compelling offer first wins. So, am I wrong for my quiet prayers? Am I wrong for my fervent belief that my life extends past the actions of my nervous system? Indeed, therein lies the failure of my logic system.
I have friends who do say that that is just delusion in my life. If I am deluded, then so be it.
I am off to say my prayers before bed. Good night all.
Thank you for reading.
Note: one of my friends has just finished reading Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation and has just finished listening to Richard Dawkins The God Delusion. I am amused that after listening to all that, he decided to classify himself as an atheist. Apparently Bertrand Russell's discussion about a teapot orbiting the sun was just that compelling for him to refute all possibility of a creator.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I was just sitting in Arby's at my computer when a most beautiful lady bought herself a soda, and as she was about to leave...
She looked across to me
as she asked
"It is Earl Grey Tea, with bergamot. Right?"
It is the lady from the coffee shop inside Raley's.
I told you I had an impact. I am almost crying now. Follow those memes, like any other virus, the language virus can spread. This is a beautiful day.
A day shall soon be set aside where homage to Richard Dawkins will be paid.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
A meme (pronounced /mɛmɛ/, /miːm/ or /mɛm/) consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a "culture" in a manner similar to the behavior of a virus. As a unit of cultural evolution, a meme in some ways resembles a gene. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene, recounts how and why he coined the term meme to describe how one might extend Darwinian principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing-fashions, and the technology of building arches
So, as I look at people promoting their “memes” in their techie world, I promote mine. I was in a Raley's supermarket when I saw a box in their cafe'. The box was of a box of tea; the variety was Earl Grey with bergamot. I cannot tell you what compelled -some marketing man, some technical writer, or heretic – to think it reasonable to add the phrase “with bergamot” to a box of a tea, which, by definition has bergamot in it.
I had already had some coffee by this time, and was ready to explain to this poor lady why this is an issue. I explained to her about memes and how I am certain this information will change her life. I looked quickly in her eyes, hoping for a moment of rapport, a signification that the transmission had taken place. I did see something happen, a twitch, a momentary pause, a sense that with her, with this moment, a transformation had occurred in her psyche.
This mission is one of opening doors, of expanding opportunities.
Sometimes we have to ask why something unnecessary is added. I need to know a little of the feng shui of the moment. We are looking to the future for the promise of greater prosperity. No, not as a monk. But, I do need to know ultimately what I really believe. From there I can pass on any information I think will benefit others. I love listening to The Skeptics Guide to the Universe (Check links under Neurologica for more information). Of course, as some will say , it is only their reality. What ideas do we want to spread today? What do I really believe is my mission statement? How do I propose to infect the world today?
As a person whose philosophic influences include both atheist and secular religious thinkers, it is funny that one thread that seems to run through both, and that is there is really little cause to infect anyone with anything, anywhere. Monkhood for me is about no longer believing the lie that I will be that butterfly that changes the world.
So, all altruism mythology cast aside, I chase the interaction. I love the connection I have with the world here. Whether we are discussing God, word etymologies, friends , or families, I am certain that my motives remain selfish. Is it wrong for me to say that? I am sure I will have more to share soon.
I have Feedjit now that I may track the paths of infection.
Thank you for reading.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
My experiences living in Redding may well prepare me for my life as a monk.... I see a wonderful future as a monk. Friar Keith shall be my appellation, and I will work to transcend my worldly desires as an aspirant, followed by the acceptance into a contemplative community.
Selection of a community would be most challenging. If you long to wear orange, then you are in trouble unless you are Buddhist. If you like black, and enjoy long hair and long beards, Orthodoxy may well serve you. I was always drawn to the concept of the Cistercians of the Strict Order(the Trappists). These people, held up here in Kentucky, are the ones that gather eggs, and live in much quiet. They open every day with Psalm 95. “Let us make joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation...If today you shall hear His voice, do not harden your heart”
I would have to admit to you, those who have never met me, long periods of quiet are often followed by marathon talking. I am not sure a life as a Trappist would meet my needs. I do like orange wraps, but I cannot imagine shaving my head (my last girlfriend convinced me my copious surgical scars were painful to look at..... Sigh.... shaving is so easy). So, as a monk, whatever the religion, whatever the philosophy, there seems to be some unanimous agreement in uniformity, and my current preoccupation makes me wonder how successful I would b e in such a community.
Most monks are vegetarians, and eat very bland foods. I like eating dead animal flesh, and exult in my learning to prepare it in more exciting ways. Of course in all my simplicity, I love that I can make delicious soups, and prepared to my satisfaction nasi goreng (bahasa Indonesian term for “fried rice”).
What it is is this idea of Napoleon Hill. He said that in the world there is this Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction is just like the concept of water seeking its own level. In NLP, they speak of modeling, and mirroring. Here, in our contemplative blog post, I will say as I was already asked, I am not very sure what I am seeking. It was my sister who between ten and twenty years ago gave me a copy of That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek.
My goal is to know who I want to emulate, what societies do I really want to b e a part of. What person, or group lives the life I want for myself? Here I am, blogging my truth, sharing my heart as best I can. My monkhood, my internal peace is coming through meditation, through prayer, through visualization. My dreams to realize are in thje offing, and I have a more organized tool box.
Neurons are said to have numerous synapses, but through lack of use, synapses are reduced to about half. My tool box is just like that one neuron. My synapses represent gateways to connect, to grow, to change. Each synapse is like a portal a tool, a utility. Each portal must be maintained. So let us figure out those tools which are more clutter than utility.
As my life gets more developed, I a grateful that I no longer read all the latest in affirmation books, self-help books, psychological analyses of various levels of dysfunction. My toolbox has gotten very simple:
I have one roll of duct tape
I have one can of WD-40
If it moves and it is not supposed to, I have duct tape.
When something does not move, but I think it should, I keep WD-40.
One man shared with me his philosophy on tools: If you cannot fix it with a hammer, the problem is electrical.
Thank you for reading.
Monday, May 5, 2008
On Friday, May ninth, 2008 there will be a fundraiser to help this family.
A spaghetti feed will be provided to help raise money to assist this mother and her daughters.
Bishop Quinn High School
Cost for dinner:
$ 8. 00 for adults
$ 5. 00 for children
$ 25. 00 for families of four or more.
Dinner is spaghetti, salad, and beverage.
Raffle tickjets for great prizes. Raffle is $1 per ticket
Questions? Contact Bridget (530) 227 7589 or (530) 549 4059
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I read from Ginsberg, and I think of his journey, the journey he shared in his poetry. His, a celebration of words and images that spanned five decades. His vision brought him a professorship at the Naropa Institute; he spoke of the walls there, and he wrote of his experiences, how he learned to meditate, how he got to understand more the Buddhist philosophies.
I met him in 1988, wandering the Phoenix bookstore in Downtown San Jose, where he shared with me for a while about his poetry, his experiences writing, traveling, as a coffee shop employee brought him some gazpacho. It was exciting to meet with him.
I sat in on his talk, a talk he ended by guiding us all in a period of meditation. He counseled me on my posture, the position of my head. I think it is in his poetry I found my freedom. In his poetry I found my own gateway to understanding impermanence. He wrote, like Ram Das, of mandalas, of transitory natures, and often of death.
One of his early poems was titled Kaddish. Kaddish is a prayer said for the dead. His book of poetry, one I bought that day, was titled White Shroud. It is in these references I find a peace. I was always told to never stifle the movements of the universe, and it is in this practice I often get to see, like a scanning of my body, where my blockages occur.
I prayed often that I was willing that God could have anything he wanted from me. It was my personal surrender. It is still amazing how when I am so bold, perhaps arrogant when I say such things, that soon enough I get to face that with which I would not, could not part. Surrendering to God from my own supermarket is actually quite easy. Still, as readers have seen I have plenty that I hold onto.
My challenges are always in that hidden pocket of my life I have not addressed. Those pockets are where all my remaining fears and anger flourish. Luckily for me, I am getting better at examination of these things.
So, as I work in my little space at the store, I look back as a young girl stops me, and says calmly, “you are dropping things all over the floor.” I look down at coffee beans that already are crushing under people's feet, and I smile. “Yes. You are right.” One customer told me perhaps I already am a monk. So what? Has the bulk foods aisle become my own mandala, my own celebration of ongoing change?
Maybe all these distractions really are the things keeping me from achieving my higher purpose. So, I sweep up the floor, and resolve to know it will all happen again. Well, if monkhood is my route, I could say that with my bald spot, I now have a built in tonsure.
Thank you for reading.
Friday, May 2, 2008
What does one do with remembrances? We have certain ideas we associate with experiences, and outside those parameters we have to play it by ear. I have learned about the concept of the sonogram dealing with ladies I knew were pregnant. They would have a special gelly placed on their belly, and that gelly would make it possible to conduct sound waves in such a way as to create on a screen a picture, a representation of the baby growing inside their womb. By directing this sound wave, moving the sonagram device over the belly, the technician can gain a multiple angle perspective on the growing fetus.
Taken to the hospital years ago, after experiencing chest pains, the same technology was used to examine my heart. They were able to see the function, the action of my heart, and show to my satisfaction that my heart was operating, unobstructed. They sent me home, satisfied there was nmothing wrong with me. (Note: they did not gives me a picture of the sonogram of my heart)
This is a discussion about the appropriate reactions to situations. I was not raised on a Hippie commune and I do not believe that whatever feels right ( or whatever feels good ) is necessarily the best guide to taking action. So, one day my roommate a few years ago hands me a black and white picture, and I asked his what it is. He told me it is a sonogram of his prostate. I smiled, handed the picture back to him, and asked him what he will name it. I am grateful I did not sit in on that session. I know where they gel up my chest to inspect my heart. I know where they gel up a woman's belly to check out her baby. I do not want to know how my roommate's sonogram was done.
Anyway, this brings me to the present day. Anniversaries, positive anniversaries are points of warm reflection, usually positive memories captured in the minds, the hearts of the parties involved. Often it is a memory of the opening of a business, or the starting of a romance;maybe it is the starting of a marriage;it is the anniversary of the day you bought your first house.
So, May 1 is an anniversary for me. Yet for me it is of a May day nine years ago. My memory is not one of a very happy day. It was a day when for me I was spiritually bankrupt, emotionally spent, and physically wore out. May 1, 1999 does not stand out for me as a very happy day.
I called my parent's house from my workplace after a night of drinking. From 11 at night, until seven in the morning, I had consumed the larger part of a 750 ml bottle of Lucky's Brand bourbon (charcoal filtered). And started smoking again.
This was a day of desolation. I called my father, who picked me up on the side of the road. He looked at me, still drunk, and I explained to him how- by seven in the morning- I was almost arrested, and already confronted by my boss, asking me how I was supposed to open up the store in two hours in the condition I was in....
My father took me home. He let me sleep, and told me that he did not feel sorry for me. It
was a day where I asked myself what I have to do to make myself better. I have friends that speak to me of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. I know that that day my life began. I cannot detail all here I have been through to get myself balanced emotionally but I can say that through the guidance of knowing friends, I have found a way of life that is truly blessed.
So, this May 1, I reflect on that day, and I am in awe that such a day was an entire nine years ago, and at the same time, I know my life today seems worlds removed from the anger, the frustration I felt back then. It truly was a different life for me. I can live grateful today.
Thank you for reading.
My roommate and I just took a cab to downtown Redding. It is early in the morning. The cabbie found a Bud Light in the cab, asked me if I wanted it... I declined, just for today.