It can only be what it is...



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year approaches

New Year approaches, change is in the wind.
Funny how every new year brings in a sense of hope that the new year will be better than last. I suppose it's human nature to think this way. I have long since stopped the creation of resolutions that I cannot seem to maintain past two months.
With a goal in mind of improving my health I had made some changes to my diet and exercise routines that was paying off real dividends in the last few months of 2011. Then hit a little set back that ended up with a backslide and a return to old habits.
I plan on tackling this in 2012 , not with just a simple resolution but more of a shift in thinking that needs to stick, not just for me but for the others that are counting on me.
Step 1. Sit in meditation more.
Step 2. Find my Way
Step 3. Should an emergency situation present itself, break glass of illusion and meditate some more.

For everyone out there, Sincere best wishes with whatever endeavors , asprirations you are striving for in 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All things come back to their roots-Lao-Tzu

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Returning Empty Handed

Shih-tou Hsi-chien (700-790) was a very well known Chinese Ch'an master.
As a young monk, he was one of the disciples of the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng.
After Hui-neng passed away, Shih-tou continued his pilgrimage...
He paid a vist to the Great master Hsing-szu at the Ching-yuan mountain.
Hsing-szu asked:
-Where did you come from?
Shih-tou replied:
-From Tsao-chi [referring where Hui-neng resided].
-What did you get at Tsao-chi?
-Before I was at Tsao-chi, I was not lacking anything.
-If so, why were you there?
-If I were not there, how could I know I did not lack anything?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time and Hell,

I met a new resident at where I work yesterday, her name is Norma. Norma was a WREN (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wren_(Royal_Navy
back in WWII.
Norma had a great pair of glasses on. Revealing her once fiery character, they were multicoloured frames, that made me think of rainbows.
Two things that struck me with Norma, (by the way she has moderate alzheimers)
1. When I showed her the picture that I took of her, she said to me  "Oh my... I look old, when did that happen" and
2. When I mentioned the town she came from trying to make small talk as we waited together -she said "oh I was in hell before, but then what can you expect when you have one foot in the grave"

I found them to be interesting observations that are applicable to all of us in some ways and at some point in time or another.

We rarely feel time pass, it's only when we really look in earnest that we realize that our bodies have changed, faces have wrinkles, more gray hairs etc.

As for her other observation, it really becomes a glass half empty or full analogy to some extent. Without really knowing her exact situation before coming to where I work, I imagine if you are anywhere you don't want to be , it is a hell of sorts.

Life has a way of providing lessons it seems,  just need to be open and receptive in order to see and receive.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Time,and letting go

On Tuesday a new gentleman was admitted to where I work. He is an elderly man , veteran of World War II and is considered terminal and may not be with us for very long.
I had met this gentleman previously and taken his photo about a year ago.
I was called to his floor to take his photo for his I.D. and seeing he was needing oxygen it was just easier for me to go to him. He looked a little tired but overall in good spirits.Not much different from the man that I had met over a year ago.
Managed to get a little smile, clicked some photos and we parted ways.

This morning he passed away.

Did he know it was his time ? If he did, it certainly changes in some way the smile he gave me when I took his photo. There was all kinds of staff trying very hard to set up his wheelchair and room for him to his satisfaction.
He just sat there rather bemused by it all when I think about it in hindsight. An orderly gave him a warm blanket, his eyes said it all.
Letting go.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matthieu Ricard, Monk and excellent photographer

http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/index.php/gallery/

Please check out his work, there is a large body of work from portraits to landscapes. Very nice stuff in my opinion.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

200+ year old interactive tablet found on my doorstep

For a few day this week we have been receiving a newspaper every morning. Not sure if it belongs to anyone on my street. ( No address label or anything but it's an english newspaper and all of my neighbours are french.)
Maybe it's part of a free promotion either way,
Today being Saturday it's a rather large paper and here we are having breakfast and we all have a section of the paper that we are reading together while muching happily away on breakfast.

Comics, crossword puzzles and interesting journalistic opinion pieces.

I think it could catch on....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pema Chodron "Troublemakers"

Pema Chodron "This Lousy World"

Honouring

We always have the opportunity to practice Honouring in our lives. Whether in the form of a personal vow or discipline or out of respect for another, through honouring we will be different. It is sometimes difficult for us to grasp how far-reaching our impact actually is. Ripples spreading from a pebble tossed into a pond can be observed, but how our voice or thoughts or emotions reverberate around the universe is more difficult to comprehend. As you honour something or someone, you will be changed. Your ripples will spread. As you change, your world will change.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Remembrance Day -Lest we forget

Today where I work, we had our annual remembrance day ceremony. For the last few years they have actually had to hold the ceremony on the week-end prior to November 11, as the larger ceremonies grab up all the VIP's and guests of honor.
Every year we have fewer veterans present but the mood is still the same. Every year we have the older veterans who are mostly walker and wheelchair bound struggle to get up to salute and pay their respects to Queen and Country, but mostly I suspect it is to their mates. For the ones that didn't make it back, that didn't have the luxury of watching their kids grow up, that didn't get to grow old and aren't here today to honour their friends.

Every year when the bagpipes play, the trumpet cries out taps, and the choir sings hymns, there are still a few veterans that shed a tear.

For all those who fought for our freedom,
Lest we forget,

Failure

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Compassion


Can't really say much else, but compassion

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I am not this body...

I am so not this body. I feel like a young man trapped in an aging old body. This past month of October has been rough to say the least. Bright side is that it really has rammed home the fact that I am not this body. Now if I could only manage not to be in constant pain...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ravi & Anoushka Shankar - Raga Anandi Kalyan

Busy,very busy

It may look like I'm doing nothing but on a cellular level I'm really very busy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who's more trapped ? ...us, or him ?


I took his picture as I found him staring me down, looking at me right in the eyes. Unwavering , sadness apparent ( I know I am anthropomorphizing but I was there !)
 None the less I had a hard time deciding who was more caged in , us or him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sukha Dukkha and the Wheel of Samsara

Sukha in Sanskrit or Pali usually is translated as happiness, or more literally running smoothly.(As in the wheel of a chariot as an example)
Dukkha is suffering. Pretty self evident

Both equally need to be renounced it seems. Attachment to either one leads one down the wrong path.
It would also seem to me the happiness we have in this material world is fleeting at best and really ephemeral.
The suffering we experience doesn't last either for ever.
Until we realize this the wheel of samsara keeps on turning.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Taking things for granted-

We often take things for granted ,our health, our physical abilities.
 It really comes to the foreground when an ability we take for granted becomes sidelined.
Due to a temporary condition I am constant pain right now, and unable to walk easily or without a lot of discomfort.
 I tend to walk a lot , enjoy walking with my dog, I like to run,  and do Yoga.
All of this is kind of on the back burner do to this condition. Even sitting in meditation , the pain is really constant.
I am realizing though, like the yogi in India that bathes in the river Ganges in their winter months, or having to cook food in the high heat of summer is also similarly inconvenient there are certain things that must be done. Certain things must be maintained, despite the inconveniences they pose.

Dharma can't be a sometimes thing.
 It always flows like the river into the ocean, even when their are heavy rains and a lot more water is flowing into the ocean, the ocean is calm and accepts it all.
Likewise I need to accept the present situation , do what I can to heal from it and move on, without sacrificing or putting things to the side.
That is my challenge at present.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

After enlightenment

After enlightenment, do the laundry

Monday, August 29, 2011

108-Sacred Number

108 is the sum of 9 adjacent numbers: 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 + 16 = 108

The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions such as Hinduism,Buddhism,Jainism ,Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices. A Mala (prayer beads has beads for 108 repetitions of a mantra, and likewise Zen prients wear a juzu( a ring of beads which consists of 108 beads.

The distance of Sun from Earth divided by diameter of Sun and distance of Moon from Earth divided by diameter of Moon is approximately equal to 108. It is claimed that the great masters of Vedanta knew this relationship and thus 108 is a very important number in Vedantic chantings.

The pre-historic monument Stonehenge is 108 feet in diameter.

According to Marma Adi and Ayurveda, there are 108 pressure points in the body, where consciousness and flesh intersect to give life to a living being.
The number 108 figures prominently in the symbolism associated with karate.
Several different Tai Chi Quan long forms consist of 108 moves.

The number 108 is one of many numeric motifs in the American television program Lost,which includes quite a few references to Buddhism. For example, the sum of "the numbers" (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42) is 108, and "the numbers" must be entered into a computer every 108 minutes. One hundred eight is also the number of days "the Oceanic 6" have spent on the island. And Jacob tells Hurley to rotate the mirror in the lighthouse to a heading of 108°.
and lastly...
The British television series Doctor Who has exactly 108 missing episodes.

Random ? I think not...



Friday, August 26, 2011

Resistance is Futile

One of my favorite lines from Star Trek , The Next Generation. It seems to ring true on a lot of levels though.

Have you ever noticed when you bristle against something, fight it with all your heart, it still comes to pass perhaps a little more than you expected even.

I am experimenting with trying to find the good in every situation.

Resisting seems to bring about more tension, I feel it in my chest and throat, clenching , tightening.

Being more accepting , open, feels better, regardless of the situation.

Easy , not so much, but it's what I am working on.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quote for the day

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.-Buddhist Quote

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last Day of taking portraits

Today was my last taking pictures of the veteran residents where I work. One gentleman after I had taken his picture seeing as there was a bit of free time before the next one was due to sit, decided to tell me about his best friend that me made and met last year when he first came to the hospital.
These two gentlemen were thick as theives as it were. Every waking hour they were together, especially when there was activities, dances, special meals, entertainment , you name it. Then as he was remembering all the good times, he mentioned to me their last day together. The fun they had, and how his friend was more tired than usual that night , how he brought him to his room, and his friend felt bad that he needed to retire to his room so soon. Promises were made to have breakfast together the next day, and all was well.
The following morning my gentlemen of this afternoon recounted how he woke up early and went to the floor where his friend lived, only to be greeted by a nurse who wanted to spare him the shock of finding his friend recently passed on. She was stammering he says to me , and his reply to her was , I know dear, I could tell last night when I brought him home that it was near.
The sorrow was visible in this gentlemen's eyes this afternoon, the loss of his friend, the companionship that he had.
I thanked him for sharing his story with me, and he left extending an invitation to me , "Pass by sometime we can talk some more,"
I think I will, I replied, I think I will,

Tsoknyi Rinpoche speaks about Mingyur Rinpoche's Retreat


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Obstacles, An opportunity for growth

I was reading about obstacles recently and how we can choose to perceive them. For myself I have pretty much held the opinion that obstacles are as certain in life as death and taxes.
You can choose to lament them, and for certain obstacles depending on the magnitude, that too, is inevitable.
At some point though, these obstacles are golden opportunities for progress , growth and perserverance.
It seems to me that that the boss you can't get along with, the brother, or uncle or whatever family member that gets under your skin can provide countless opportunities to improve our mindfulness and our practice.
What a great cost free workshop !( and it's sure to repeat , allowing for lots of practice !)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who had the harder workout (Spoiler alert it was me !)

So, as I have mentioned here before my youngest is disabled. She has a syndrome called Angelman's and long story short it affects her mobility, language skills and she has epilespy. All that being said she has made great strides in the last few years.
I keep thinking now that I am doing yoga again, I should get her on the mat, there would have to be some benefits to it. So off I went earlier this week, got the mat out , did my yoga routine, which she found hilarious by the way. Not sure if I should take it personal, and then I got her on the mat.
I tried valiantly to get her into some sort of downward facing dog, you have to imagine the scene, I get her feet on the mat, her hands go up, get her hands on the mat she raises her feet,. This went on for about 3 minutes as I stubbornly thought I can get her to do this.
Then I had a flash, grabbed a swiss ball and placed it under her stomach, from there we rolled into downward dog, alternating hands and feet on the mat. She loved it , and it saved my back from near destruction.
Not sure if Patanjali would call it Yoga but it worked, maybe one day she'll not need the ball under her but until then ,why not ?
By the way she does an awesome shoulder stand, she's got strength my girl ! and for me , I was sweating up a storm trying to support her and get her into some postures. Really fun challenge.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Post # 100- A view on self image

At work I am still on this project of photographing all our residents. It's amazing to see that on average most of these gentlemen and a few women , when they are told that I am passing by at the appointed hour, really go to town getting ready. I guess on one hand when they don't have too many visitors, the idea that someone is coming to take their photo seems to be a huge motivator. One gentleman today insisted on shaving, getting dressed,( suit ,tie and proudly display his WWII medals). I didn't have the heart to tell him it was a head shot only and that his medals wouldn't be seen. It did however start a conversation, of the battles he'd been in and where he got his medals. After all his hard work in getting ready I felt compelled to at least share some time and conversation with him and thank him personally for his efforts.
On the other end of the spectrum there was a gentleman today that didn't want his picture taken. Categorically he was not having anything to do with it. You see, he was a good looking man in his youth, quite the ladies man apparently also. Time unfortunately , skin cancer, and a stroke have robbed him of his looks. The person he sees in the mirror doesn't reflect or jive with what he sees when he closes his eyes I imagine.
His words to me were :"J'ai l'air d'une citrouille"-he feels like he looks like a Halloween pumpkin. I managed to get him to sit and take his picture regardless. Deep in his eyes you could the strained confidence that was once there and that was conveyed in his portrait.
How many of us feel that disassociation when we look in the mirror ?
Separation of mind and soul, together and separate at the same time. Not easy at the best of times, harder still when you feel like you're marking time like this gentlemen. Afterwards I showed him the picture and mentioned that we will redo it in two years, his reply, was well, I won't be here, so at least there's that.

Friday, July 29, 2011

4 Paths to Mastery

I was thinking about this today, how does one become a master,(Zen Master , Spiritual Master / Guru , Yoga Master, Guitar, Video Games etc. ), whatever is wanted.
Now I must issue a most important disclaimer- I am not a master of anything , and don't pretend to be. That being said, it was weighing on my mind today, regardless , that there must be steps to becoming a master and I managed to find an interview with Dr.Wayne Dyer about meditation and he outlined what he feels are the 4 paths to mastery
  1. Discipline. This would entail the actual practice, training of what our goal is. The nuts and bolts, and mechanics of whatever practice we are striving for.
  2. Wisdom. The application of the mind to the discipline of the body. Can also be viewed as the theoretical/ scholastic side of things.
  3. Unconditional Love. Hitting that stage where what you are doing is consistent with your sense of love. Otherwise you are stuck at One and Two. That you need to really love what you are doing. Olympic gold medalists come to mind, they really love what they are training for and it shows or musicians, actors .
  4. Surrender. Letting go, you are not what you have , or what you do, but are part and parcel of something much larger and divine, and connected to your source, Buddha, God, whatever name is your preference.
That is not to say do all four and Bob's your uncle, reality is always more difficult than that , and I imagine that they can be intermixed and approached in any order but they do seem logical to me. Especially the last one. The toughest one of them all, letting go of the ego. Yet time and time again whenever I do, the universe manages to send back a message , almost a ''Hey, At ta boy ! keep it up !" kind of message. At any rate, message received loud and clear. Also I've found that  number four leads back to three, in so much as surrendering, can actually open the heart and allow for that unconditional love to flow.
Be well,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

When the rubber hits the road,

I always though it appropriate the image that this phrase gives me, when the rubber hits the road.

A colleague of mine from work is certainly facing this as his wife is suffering from terminal cancer.
The end is near, and things cannot be tougher for my friend.
The cancer and pain have induced much fear in his wife and gone is her spiritual side he says.
He tries to console her and be her caregiver, what a tough piece of karma this is.
Not only is he losing his love , his wife , in the end days she is not even close to being the woman she was when healthy.
He desperately wants her last thoughts to be good ones.
I ask everyone to send some Metta her way,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photography and life's impermanence

Where I work ( a Veteran's Hospital in Canada) I have recently been given the opportunity to retake all of the residents' photos.
In and of itself, I enjoy doing this kind of work. I had studied photography in college, and it's still a hobby of mine.
What I am finding however is quite different from what I expected. We have a couple hundred men and some women( Nurses from WWII and Korea) that are suffering from Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. They often are combative with the nurses and orderlies,and over and over again the staff bemoans how some residents will just not pose for a photo or be cooperative.
The administration wanted me to have a backdrop and have the camera mounted on a tripod , schedule appointments and it just seemed overly stuffy and not inviting.
I booked a room for a couple of hours, and simply sat on a chair in the room where I was taking the pictures and just spoke to them, with respect and compassion and took some of the best pictures I could. A few just wandered in on their own, some came willingly with family members and some were downright difficult.
Some of the toughest customers I had , have managed to be the best pictures yet once the ice was broken.
I would like to make these photos available to the families as they have managed to capture a glimmer of what once was.
A shadow perhaps of their former self, the confidence, seems to show up even if for just a fleeting moment.
Life's impermanence certainly seems all to vivid to me today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quote from Charlotte Joko Beck

"Life always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every misfortune,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee),
every illness, every loss,
every moment of joy or depression,
every addiction,
every piece of garbage,
every breath.
Every moment is the guru.
"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We already are what we seek to become

How about that for a concept. Roll it around, try it on for size, see if you like it.

At first thought , when I heard this verse, I thought well, if that's the case , I want nirvana,...but when I opened my eyes , still me just sitting here, nothing changed.
Not one to quit easily I continued to think about how could this be true. Where's the proof.
Certainly we have the potential(Buddha-Nature) to acheive nirvana at some point. One can also have the intention as well, and perhaps there is the rub.
If one has intention, does it mean it will happen ?
Belief in something has been known to affect people in a positive way, can the power of intention yield results ?
If I want to be a peaceful person, and I believe that I am, and my intention is such, will it truly make me peaceful, when looking for the elusive parking spot at the mall , only to have someone snatch it out from under me !
Or is it that intention, is like choosing to water the seeds of awareness, rather than ignorance.
Is the power of intention just being present and choosing what seeds to nurture ? So that in that way we are already what we are seeking ?
Let me know if I am barking up the wrong tree,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Resisting the change

Being comfortable with what is...is not easy
When watching Star Trek I 've always loved the mantra of the Borg, "resistance is futile".
The fact is change is the only constant in the universe and yes resistance is futile...
I suppose it's only natural to bristle at change, and myself , I do too.
We really want things to remain the same , and yet all around us are constant reminders that things change, every minute and every second.
Our mind's construct for what is our reality , what we take for granted as constant and non-changing is circumstantial at best and due to our attachments they cloud and tint the situation like rose-coloured glasses.
Recently I  read a very erudite paper on physics, string theory and theoretical physics and I really like this Einstein quote :
"As far as mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality"
We try very hard to describe our natual world, and while we are good at it, as far as what we can see and perceive but we shouldn't confuse what we can decribe with what we can understand.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Befriend Solitude


Learning to handle the many moods
and activities of life
requires solitude

Do not let the demands of an overly active world rob your children of their peace.
Constant stimulation without balance of quietness creates chaos.

The child who early befriends solitude becomes one with all that is and inherits everything.
The Parents Tao Te Ching

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A quote from Pema Chödrön that I really like

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dying nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start doing things differently.” — Pema Chödrön

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How deep are the weeds ?

After years of neglect my front and back lawns have taken quite the beating. Not that I didn't want to maintain them, it's just with my daughter's health in the beginning, mowing the lawn was the extent of care that I put towards my grass.
Fast forward and weeds have taken hold.
Today I went outside with my trusty yard implement to remove the culprits from my lawn and was struck by the extent that the weeds roots had taken hold.
The roots were deep to say the least, and I thought , that makes sense, my own mental weeds are just as deep and just as difficult to remove.
Neglect and mowing down emotions , feelings, are just as similar as leaving my lawn to fend for itself.

I realized that I am thankful for my weeds, gives me something to work on both outside and internally. My internal weeds are what  have shaped me into what I am today, for good or for worse. They are there, roots and all. One by one , the deep rooted ones that have a choke hold are slowly becoming untangled and let loose. The fluff floating away in the wind.
Whose to say that weeds are ugly and non-desirable anyway ?
If I didn't have weeds in my lawn, I'd have no front lawn !

Cadbury "Monks" Directed by Erik Van Wyk



I am curious to know how people perceive this ad ? is it funny, or bad taste ? Let me know...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Being Gentle with oneself

It struck me the other day as I was trying to get my teenage daughter to give up being so hard on herself, (she is a rather obstinate perfectionist) that I probably have not been the best example of this.
My daughter has fears of not being perfect to the point that she will abstain from trying if she thinks her results might be less than 100% perfect. I don't have that issue.
My motto has always been try and learn, give it your best , but try and see what happens.
I recently have started yoga , and let's be honest, even after years of Karate I am less than stellar, but I enthusiastically look forward to every class and see my progress in micro steps.
My stumbling block is trying to protect the ones closest to me from disappointment . There is absolutely nothing that I can do to prevent others from disappointment and logically, I know that.
Still I end up full of anxiety when I perceive that someone close is feeling anguish or anxiety.
Perhaps in being gentle with myself, this will entail being gentle with others and be contagious in a good way.
This is what's rumbling around this morning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breath

Recently I have come to understand or realize that I sometimes make things too complicated. Probably in a lot of areas.
I over think things,
This bleeds over to when I try to meditate as well. I worry about proper form, am I breathing properly, is my breath deep enough, were the last couple of ones to shallow....or was I more distracted today then yesterday etc.
I was listening to a podcast from S.N. Goenka and I had a Ah-Ha ! moment.
What I took away from it was the KISS method, ( Keep it simple stupid ). Not being in full lotus isn't going to make or break my meditation, or commiserating about the deepness or shallowness of my breath or the myriad other irritants that pop up in daily life.

If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished -Rumi Sage

Mind Training in 8 verses

Monday, April 25, 2011

God Particle Rumour

An article caught my eye today that the scientists woking at the super collider have been looking for the "God Particle" and someone leaked that they had found it . But now it seems that it's not proven and therefore they are still looking.
Makes we wonder two things,
One :can science be viewed or construed as religion ? Often nothing is proven, yet there they are, the scientists, convinced that their view is correct.  Although I would think they would be horrified to look at their views as faith but yet to me it does seem that they need to put forth "faith " quite often in the absence of proof. Not unlike religion.
Two: The Big Bang Theory being a total random event also strikes me as an odd chance of fate, by contrast if you were to blow up a printing press would you get an Oxford Dictionary ?
Just saying...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Swirling Vortex of Misery-

What to do when your pre-teen (soon to be teen in a few days) daughter starts to have a surly and sometimes downright belligerent attitude towards me and everything around her.
I try my best to not get involved in her swirling vortex of misery, but I think I will need to start putting reminders around the house to catch my eye and remind me to breath, and hope that my calm ( or reasonable facsimile) is contagious.

Arj Barker Sickest Buddhist-A Parody



Despite some of the language used , kinda not a bad thing to take ourselves too seriously

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dealing with negativity

I am having a hard time dealing with negativity lately. It's not that it's new or anything. I have been surrounded by it for most of my life.
As a young lad I lost my mother to an aneurysm ( I was four at the time) and I remember it vividly to this day. My father never recovered from it and I was forced into a father/brother relationship with my then six month old brother as my Dad tried to hold things together.  My brother only being six month's old had plenty of families willing to take him into their home and even adopt him if my father was willing. I on the other hand was not so desirable. Rather precocious as a four year old, already reading and writing, I was all too capable of telling others that they were not my mother, with a few choice adjectives to be sure.
I remember conversations that my Dad had in the kitchen with a family that was all too eager to take my brother, and my Dad not wanting brothers to be separated said what about the older one ?
They did try to be polite, but I could see through the facade even at my then young age. I wasn't wanted- much to opiniated and well I would be disruptive, but my brother on the other hand , too young to remember, not angry like the older one...
In the end we all stayed together and a live in nanny was eventually hired. For better or for worse.
Fast forward to today and and try as I might to be positive when I am confronted with someone else's negativity it stirs up old default positions in me .
There are times that I can't decide whether I am more angry that they are still there,(the negative defaults) or that it still bothers me that they are there.

Either way this is my focus lately to finally try and find a way to acknowledge them and not allow them to dictate my actions. When I read this lately in the Tao teh Ching- it struck a chord.

The softest of all things,
Overrides the hardest of things
Only nothing can enter into no-space
Hence I know tha advantages of non-ado
Few things under heaven are as instructive as the lessons of Silence,
Or as beneficial as the fruits of non-ado
Verse 43-Tao Teh Ching

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Who am I and emptying my cup

I was thinking the other day about the importance of titles. We give ourselves these titles, Father, Mother, Son, Daughter. Is it all that we really are ?
 The attachment to the title is so strong.  The sense of confusion of who we are really runs deep.

My daughter and I have for the last few years done Karate together and it is a lot of fun , something we do together and share. Recently there is a Kung Fu school that has opened and has a beginner class one day a week. I suggested to my daughter we should go and check it out. I have always been open to learning from multiple sources.
No one has a monoply on a good idea.
Much to my surprise, she felt that she was betraying her Karate Sensei if she practiced Kung Fu. She only relented somewhat when I said that he ( her Sensei) has studied multiple styles of Martial Arts and it's not being disloyal. She was hooked on being a Kareteka and can't imagine being more or less.

I guess that I like to leave my cup a little on the empty side, so that there is room to add to it.
I never feel that I know , all there is to know, and approach everyone and everything as a potential lesson and a potential teacher. I feel that it is important to have that empty cup approach to life, if the cup is full, how can you accept more.
Have you emptied your cup lately ?

Monday, March 28, 2011

buddhist monk - self immolation-Not for the faint of heart



I have seen some footage of this before but this is truly the most close up that I have ever seen. It leaves me speechless to say the least. Not for the faint of heart

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Vegetarian- is it necessary for one's practice ?

Every now and again this question pops up. A while back I had posted it as a question on an online Zen Forum and was amazed at the ferocity of the replies and statements from people.
It left me with the concrete impression that you can't mess with what people eat.
Defensive doesn't begin to describe people's attitude to their food.

I admit I have a hard time understanding the concept of karma being removed if you are the consumer of meat but not the one who killed, butchered or cooked the meat.

All tremble at violence;
Life is dear for all,
Seeing others as being like yourself,
Do not kill or cause others to kill
Dhammapada Verse 130

Wouldn't one be guilty by association as it were ?
Recently I read that the Dalai Lama eats meat that his doctor had prescribed to him for health reasons.

I can understand I guess, that, in Tibet the climate is not particularly good for farming, and the lack of vegetation pretty much means the populace has to consume Yak or some other meat source for survival.

So I'll ask the question here, if you are Buddhist should you refrain from eating meat ? Does it break precepts ? What do people think about this ?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The day things changed,

Siblings have their ups and downs. Of that there is no question. My oldest daughter was the most overprotective big sister in the universe when my youngest was born. It was funny to see, she would practically tear apart a doctor or nurse approaching her sister. Then came a day of reckoning as it were.

My youngest had caught a nasty virus which caused a pneumonia that forced her lungs to fill up with fluid . A rush trip to the emergency proved the right thing to do as she was starting to have real trouble breathing by the time we got there. Despite everyone's best efforts within a few short hours her lungs were collapsing. Intubation was the only resort -and once intubated and heavily medicated into a medical coma, this state lasted over 20 days.

My oldest was in kindergarten and as my wife and I tried to have a semblance of normalcy for her , we took shifts in staying at the hospital and staying at home and getting my oldest off to school. When we figured out that we were in this for the much longer duration we decided that our oldest needed to visit and see her sister, despite all the tubes, IV drips central lines etc.
One of the nurses suggested that they take a polaroid so that we could explain everything to her first so that it's not a shock when she gets to the hospital. They did and we brought it home and explained everything.
So far so good, our oldest stoically took in all the info and seemed to process it quite well. That is until she asked if she could take the picture to school and show her teacher - she had explained this to her teacher and like we did with her she was eager to share with her teacher her newfound knowledge.
This is when the first shift occured, another child in the class looked at the photo and quite matter of factly said "She looks like she's dead, is she dead"

From that point on my oldest slowly distanced herself from her sister. Even when things got better, her sister recovered and things went forward fairly normal. (As far as normal can be!)
For a while after that incident, everytime my oldest heard an ambulance, she thought it was for her sister.
 I think the distance was a method she used to protect herself.
Not long after our youngest's stay in the ICU , extended family of ours had a child that had died due to complications and Cerebral Palsy that not only further reinforced the fragility of life but for her the distance she must have felt necessary to protect herself from those feelings.
Fast forward a few years slowly we might be returning to that relationship that they should have had. I hope for her that she does.
My youngest has a gift to give , that gift is love, no strings, no ego , just love.
How can you say no, even if it is ephemeral ?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Self-Doubt- The Ambition Assassin

Sometimes we are all a slave to thinking in the past. Try as we might it's pull is deep.
In the present moment we are all capable,
The past is not who we are, and,
it does not define what we can create in the now.
Just because something hasn't happened in the past , is all the more reason to make it happen in the now.
Throw off the shackles of the past, cease to be a slave of the past.
Live Now !

"Breathing in , I calm my body
Breathing out, I smile"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just Breathe

This has been one hell of a week-end. All the news out of Japan is not good to be sure.
I had thought that the nuclear fears of the eighties had passed. Guess that was naive of me in hindsight.
In all of this need to remind myself to "just breathe". James Ure over at  The Buddhist Blog reminded me of this today.
On a personal note I have started to get migraines. I think they are food related, and that something that I am eating is triggering them. Anyone have any ideas on what could be a trigger and how to treat it ?( Aside from pharmaceuticals)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The R word is starting to really annoy me

I have a daughter with special needs. She has Angelman Syndrome, long story short, a chromosonal micro-deletion of chromosone 15. Anyway she has epilepsy, and her motor skills and are behind, and the epilepsy and the syndrome have left her with an intellectual disability as well.

My beef of late is the current acceptability of the word retard in every day common vocabulary. I am not so sure how and when it became socially acceptable for a large portion of society to denigrate and belittle people with the use of this word.
My older daughter's friends use it all the time, example,- Bieber is retarded, or Charlie Sheen on Piers Morgan the other night used it as well.

OK, Charlie Sheen may not be the best example to draw on but I think you can get my point.

How does this happen,

I would like to think that socially we have come a long way from the all the other racial and gender orientated slurs for the most part and yet the word retard is constantly being bantied about.

My daughter understands, she knows when she is being laughed at and so can the multitudes of others that have an intellectual disability she just can't tell someone to back off -
That's become my job.

The passenger

I have been thinking a lot lately about driving and being the passenger. For a long time I really wanted to be the driver, not just my car but in life.
Push, drive goals strive , make things happen. It was my motto.
Didn't work.
Lately I want to be the passenger, watch things happen, as they do ,
Whether I jump up and down or not.
Things change, sometimes better , sometimes not.
The voyage is becoming more important than the destination I guess, and I just want to observe as things go by, be present and enjoy it all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

PC Haiku

Windows Vista Crashed,
I am the blue screen of death,
No one hears your screams,

My old laptop died yesterday, hard drive gave up it,s last breath. I knew this was coming , several weeks of erratic behaviour ending in a cough, sputter and final breath.
I had been on the look-out for a while for a new one and well, yesterday went out and got her( use of personal pronoun for illustrative purposes only -not trying to be misogynistic or anything of the sort).
Wow , she is fun, loads of RAM , Hard drive space and Windows 7. Everything that Vista wanted to be but wasn't. For now until Windows 8 comes out I am revelling in being up to date and having a computer that actually performs to its expectations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Passing of a co-worker

I found out today about someone who, at the hospital where I work, had died over the week-end. It was sudden to say the least. No one knew she was  sick. She had confided once to me that she had Crones. A disease affecting her intestines. Not more that two weeks ago she went in for tests thinking it was related to her disease to end up having a biopsy of her liver, to full blown liver failure and her passing over the week-end.
What to say,
It is customary where I work that the management places a photo of the employee , flowers and a book for everyone to write their condolences.
I always have a hard time with the writing of condolences, words are so shallow, they can never express enough, or take away the loss.
I had met her son once, I feel compelled to write something, so I imagine I will. Although what ,
at times does escape me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Fly -Short video

http://www.bodhitv.com/videos/animation/fly

Can't get it to embed , sorry about that,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

No love without courage,

No courage without fear

Interesting thoughts on this day of hearts....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sitting in a group for the first time

At my place of work , a sitting group has started up. On our lunch hours we assemble in a physiotherapy room , some in chairs, some on Seiza benches and some on Zafu's , and sit for 30 minutes.
Aside from instruction that I had received at a Zendo, I have never sat with anyone else before.
It was an interesting experience.
Most had no idea what they were doing, or what to do, but all had a desire to try sitting in meditation.
Leading the group is an experienced practitioner in the Thich Nich Hanh tradition who did a great job of instruction.
Sitting with others, being distracted occasionally when people fidget, adds to the challenge of staying focused on the breath to be sure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Frontiers

Going to be starting something new this week. As a family we are signing up at the local YMCA for mainly exercise and losing weight. What I like about it , is that my youngest is going to be able to swim in the pool. She adores water, but has no fear at all.
What I am also looking forward to is returning back to Yoga classes. They are included in the membership and about 6 years ago when I had taken some classes regularly for a while I really noticed an improvement in my flexibility, posture, sleep and a myriad of other things.
As I get older I am starting to see the suppleness ebb away, hopefully this is the trick to at least hold it at bay for a while.
My wife and daughter however have forbade me to partake in the same class as them, something about downward facing moron...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Time to put my money where my mouth is...

Is it wrong for me to feel anxiety for my thirteen year old daughter ?
She has been recently chosen to take part in an International student exchange that has her traveling to India for two weeks .
Part of me has to admit that it's a trip that I would have loved to partake with her, and the Dad in me is worried about the myriad of health risks , dysentery, malaria etc. 
On the other hand I did sign off on the trip as I can't imagine denying her the opportunity to make friends there and actually visit some of the Holy Sites and see that country at her age !. Their itinerary has them visiting several temples and holy sites along with some of the more touristic attractions.
Has anyone been to India recently that might offer some advice or tips to for her to stay healthy while there ? They will be billeted with families that live in the New Delhi area and will travel around from there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My top ten List

10. Don't ponder
9. View all problems as challenges
8. Investigate yourself
7. Be gentle with yourself
6. Accept everything that arises
5. Don't expect anything
4.  Don't cling to anything and don't reject anything
3.  Don't rush

2.  Don't strain
1.  Let go

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Incendies-Movie Review

Well seeing as it is nominated for Best Foreign language film for an Oscar , we decided to check out this movie,also the screenplay and direction is from a Montrealer named Denis Villeneuve.(Gotta support the home grown talent!)
Wow, a day later after seeing the film and it's imagery is still fresh in my mind. He masterfully created a cinematic experience of storytelling that even if you don't speak French,the story moves and flows bringing you along for the ride , and what a ride it is.
He weaves this tale laden with suffering and love at the same time with such balance and artfulness I highly recommend that you check it out. The movie does have sub-titles and for some I know the idea of reading a movie is a put-off, but it is well worth it. I would be curious to hear from anyone who has seen it already or checks it out , let me know what you think

Monday, January 24, 2011

Home for the day,feeling older

Cold weather takes it's toll, -38 Celsius this morning, diesel school buses having mechanical issues turn the day upside down and Veronica and I are home for the day.
Whilst Veronica is happy about spending the day with Daddy I have to say that I am lucky that my bosses are somewhat understanding about the scenario. The alternative would be to take her to work with me and again she would love it, but it might not be the best idea.

Pedagogical days, spring break , and somewhat impromptu snow(everything is frozen solid) days make for needing a flexible schedule.

As for feeling older, I am starting to notice that I need to take better physical care of my body. Strength training, flexibility (maybe some yoga). Pulled a pectoral muscle transferring my daughter on Saturday reminds me that as the heavy lifter of the family I can't keep just powering through moves like I used to. Hard to break old habits I guess. I pride myself of the fact that I have never dropped one yet...but as Veronica gets older I need to lift smarter and train and prepare my body for heavier and heavier transfers.

Better than one hundred years lived lazily and lacking in effort,
Is one day lived with vigor and exertion.
Dhammapda (112)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Future Worries

Well, I would have to say that it doesn't happen often, but every now and again I wake up in the middle of the night worried about the future of my youngest daughter. Her syndrome has left her unable to communicate her needs and epilepsy that is somewhat under control but still present and hindering progress. Although she completely understands and is starting to show some improvements in her motor skills, she will undoubtedly need assistance for all of her life.
Hence the renovation we just went through, to enable my wife and I to take care of her more easily as she gets older.
What wakes me up however is what happens when my wife and I are gone, who is to be her advocate ? Who will be in her corner fighting the system to ensure that she is getting the best care, treatment and compassion that she deserves.  I imagine it's not so different for when people start worrying about their parents, but I get stuck on the fact that she is 9, and I am in my forties, mathematically speaking it's coming, like an accident in slow motion that can't be avoided.
It's not so much a fear ,really just worry. It can't be helped I think but does keep me awake from time to time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reno done, moving on

Well, renovation is done, some fine tuning left to do but overall things are pretty much completed. The contractor has some corrective work to touch up but we're good. It was quite the start to the new year.

Today we have hit the deep freeze with the lows getting to -19 plus wind chill to around -28, and Tuesday the actual low is supposed to hit -28 plus the wind chill. Still not as cold as Duluth MN but kinda close.

Routines are getting back to normal and I want to stir things up. I recently found out about a family membership plan at the YMCA that really is quite affordable and the whole family can benefit. Even my youngest as the have a pool and swimming is one of the things she really enjoys. This will entail shaking up the end of school , dinner time and veg out on the couch schedule but I really think it is worth it. Plus the YMCA has classes in Tai Chi, Tai Chi sword(didn't know that existed), Aikido, Karate, Kung Fu, along with Yoga and Pilates.
Overall something for everyone. I have to say though that I seem to be the only one that's likes change and embraces it. Perhaps it's my left-handedness, not really sure. At any rate something I want to achieve so that as a family we are more active and healthy. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Demolition -Renovation

Been out of circulation for a little bit. Just after the holidays we embarked on a major renovation of our home to accommodate my younger daughter's wheelchair. In Canada there are some subsidies to be had for this kind of work but there are waiting lists and after six years, it was finally our turn.
We had to stay in a hotel for portion of the work as we had no access to running water as our bathroom was demolished down to the studs to make room for a ''roll-in'' shower , enlarged door frames , enlarged doors inside and out. Wheel chair accessibility in a thirty plus year old home has it challenges let me tell you.
At any rate we are now back home, albeit still in a construction zone.
The instigator of all this madness ...(she's well worth it!)
Another week to go if all goes well.