Terrorism and hate

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I look to the Buddha’s teachings to understand my own true nature. What I always find is that Love binds all beings.

Choosing forgiveness and love over hate and fear is sometimes portrayed as being weak, ignorant and unpatriotic. It is easy to let fear make our choices for us. We can even rationalize the prejudices they blossom.

When terrorists attack, fear is a natural state of mind. We naturally look for clues to keep us and our loved ones safe and protected. Sometimes we look at a particular aspect of the form. Take ‘Islamic Terrorists’. Yes, there are people who commit horrific acts who do so wearing the cover of Islam. Does this mean we should fear Islam? Should we let these people define our fear? And hence our modes of protecting ourselves? When we calm down and think deeply, we may begin to realize that these people do not represent their faith, that they want to play on our fears and their agenda grows strongest when anger and fear create separation.

So, instead of letting adrenaline focus our minds on the form, which is useful in evolutionary terms when identifying venomous spiders, let us focus our minds on the function. These terrorist attacks… they occur from human beings. These people are clearly suffering in their own minds and hearts. So much so they kill people such as they do. Killing is wrong. Hating hate is not useful. It spins the wheel of hatred. This is how the Islamic State grows. When terrorists are killed ‘pro-actively’, it breeds more hatred, on both sides, and simply makes the world more dangerous, not safer.

Do I suggest simply doing nothing and letting more attacks to happen? No, self protection is natural. But I do not suggest pre-emptive murder to protect against murder. We must look into the reasons why people become ‘radicalized’. After all, these are human beings. They must be suffering horribly to become convinced to murder. Love and compassion are the way to stop the violence. Now, angry dogs bark at buddhas… That means, some people will always be too ill in this life to grasp the nature of love and they will end up harming and killing people. Murder and hate will not be abolished fully. But thinking of terrorists as human beings is an important starting point.

Just as Islam has been hijacked by some, do not let your mind be hijacked by hate and prejudice. This is what the Islamic State, for example, wants. They want you to hate them. This is a part of their agenda. This makes them stronger. So, if you really want to protect the world from terrorism, put down your hate for them. As in Christianity it is said to Love they Neighbour. .. Love… not like, not tolerate, certainly not condemn and kill, but Love… Love they neighbour… It is the Way, the Light. Love.

I am human. When I see a terrorist attack, i feel fear and deep anger. Hatred for the horrific acts. My blood may boil. This is natural. This is human. I am not anything above this reaction, or below it.

We must learn to realize that we are human in our reaction to such events. But this reaction has evolved for a response almost certainly not applicable to these events, as we almost certainly will not be directly in the mist of an attack. If we are, then adrenaline is certainly our friend, and real time thoughts and actions are valuable. But, sitting on a warm couch, seeing things unfold on tv… our evolution betrays us… our natural reaction isn’t appropriate and not very useful.

We need to feel with our hearts, tempered by rational thought. To fill the world with love.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of Bodhisattvas…people who realize their own inherent Enlightened state but delay final release from human form in order to save all beings from suffering. All beings. Every single being. So they know their task will never end, but they also know it can only ever end this way. In the End, all beings will understand. We are all teammates, even the beings that we, as humans, may hate with all our being.

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Love

Faith to get to the other shore

Faith to get to the other shore

Our brains are very strange things. Well, our thoughts are anyhow.. well, my thoughts perhaps, lol. But seriously… Our thinking minds create the Universe. Things that consume our minds with worry are usually things that don’t warrant that level of attention.

I am not the best Buddhist. When I think deeply about myself, my thoughts, I realize I am truly deeply attached to my desires… I constantly desire to rid my body of the disease it has, I desire this, I desire that, and it goes on and on… it will never end if I let it ‘run its course’.

It’s funny, because although in my heart I know that all this desiring is unhealthy, and although my mind can rationally understand why it is unhealthy, my mind still chugs along, giving my heart and my analytical mind a giant middle finger. So, who is in charge? It almost feels like I am the captain of a strange spaceship that is out of control…. Like it is flying straight towards the sun because it is shiny and pretty… even though I know in my thoughts and my heart it is foolish and destructive…. Yet my spaceship keeps heading there… blinded by desire.

I also understand that there is no spaceship, no sun, no desire.

Who is in charge of the thing that is charge-less?

I suppose it is my deep faith, my heart’s understanding of the truth of the Buddha’s teaching that keeps me pondering, keeps me going, keeps me grateful.

I feel the deep love that the Universe is. I feel the Universe perceiving itself through my mind, my thoughts, my actions, my love.

Life is too miraculous, too wondrous, too short to flounder. Even when we do not know what else to do but flounder, which for me, is often, one needs to embrace the floundering, and have deep faith… in the Universe, in yourself…

The first Noble Truth is that life is suffering (as well as the opposite, mind you). Why does life involve suffering? That does not seem right, does it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It is a very good thing to contemplate, and contemplate deeply. What does it mean?

All beings have been touched with death, whether a loved one, a friend, even a stranger, or a pet. It can tear one’s heart apart and some people never recover. It can simply be too painful to address. One day, for all beings, everyone one of us, it will be our turn. What then?

Dogen said we must practice as if our hair is on fire. There is a great urgency to what we must do with our lives. And this ‘doing’ is all about what we do with our hearts. We must see clearly our own heart, our own mind, see how it is nothing more and nothing less than all that exists propping it up, making it exist. We owe all we are to all that is. When we see the beauty of our own true heart, the Universe shines, we shine, and deep love cannot be anything but flowing, overflowing… The Universe itself cannot contain this Love.

Be kind with yourself, love yourself, with all your ‘faults’, all your mistakes, accept it all, leaving nothing out, and allow yourself to love, and deeply, and fully. It is all okay.

Alignment

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Aligning the trees with the Sun.

Harmonic vibrations of love pulsating within the inter-connectedness of all things fill hearts with sympathetic joy.

Aligning ourselves towards our true function opens the floodgates and clarity ensues.

Like a flower unfolding under the right conditions of warmth and light, our hearts too respond to the circumstances around us.

All Buddhas have experienced Enlightenment only through circumstances. Gautama Buddha saw Venus and BAM…alignment with the Universe’s heart was precise.

Although it is important to provide our soil with the correct nutrients and warmth and light, even the roasting and suffocating surface of Venus can spark this magical unfolding… this alignment.

Be still and honest within yourself and do not deny proper care to your garden. The Buddha, before Enlightenment, was a prince, living with amazing luxuries… he gave that all up and denied himself even the most basic of nourishment and grew sick and hungry. Years passed and a compassionate woman gave him some milk infused with rice… nourishment and his body responded to this love, this care. He discovered the Middle Way. Do not live in excess, yet do not deny yourself of proper care.

Do not seek heaven for reward and do not seek hell for self punishment.

The Universe has taken billions of years to get you where you are… it knows what it is doing.. having faith in this allows our alignment towards Truth and Freedom and Love to blossom.

Let us be gentle and kind to ourselves.

Practice? Sure.. But When?!

Don't wait for the pile to go down before you Practice... The pile is your Practice!

Don’t wait for the pile to go down before you Practice… The pile is your Practice!

Sometimes life gets so busy that we may feel as if we need to ‘clear our plate’ before we can begin to focus on our spiritual development.. or any other development for that matter. ‘How can I have a clear, single-mind when I have 8 different things I need to keep in the forefront of my mind… I have to pick up that prescription, buy groceries, book the car in for a tune-up, sort the kids clothes that no longer fit, fold and put away the laundry, and on and on and on…..’

And if and when we get to those times when our plate is actually clear, we may tend to want to just chill-out, put our feet up and read a good book or watch some tv..

So, our Practice, our development, goes stagnant.

We can brush this off with reassuring thoughts… ‘well, I have been too busy and I deserve to simply rest’..

I remember reading a long time ago about a story of a Zen center in the Far East. It was in a busy city, I believe, and there were lots of car horns, traffic, sirens and the rest making lots and lots of noise outside. And in the evenings when it got a bit quieter, feral cats who had made a home under the monastery would make a huge racket themselves, with fighting, playing, mating and the rest.

So, thinking we need a quiet environment, a quiet place with no responsibilities looming over us, to meditate properly is, well, something we need to overcome. There will never be a perfect time to practice, never be a perfect place to practice. And if there was a perfect place and time, then great, but our minds just might think too much about how perfect it is! Lol.

So, our lives may be hectic, but it is in those hectic moments that our practice may mean the most… and also those moments may in fact be the best time and place to actual do our practice.

The Finality of Infinity

lots and lots of flowers.... how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

lots and lots of flowers…. how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

I think about whether the Universe is infinite quite a bit. It really fascinates me. One path of thinking my brain takes me shows that it is beyond ludicrous for it to be infinite… there would be an infinite amount of totally insane things occurring that my mind simply can’t accept. However, another path of thinking my brain takes me along shows me that it has to be infinite. There simply cannot be an end.

This is a paradox. This is my own koan, if you will.

So, I begin to think about what the word ‘infinite’ actually means. Does the word even make sense?

Now, in Buddhism, there is no beginning, there is ‘co-dependant origination’… the beginning-less beginning.  Nothing is born without being held up by all other things. So… it seems to follow that there is no end… the endless ending.

What is it that cannot even begin yet also can never end?

Fifty feet below Pluto’s surface, a golden Buddha is buried, fluorescing throughout the ice. A demon flies in Saturn’s rings and a pine tree on Earth makes its cones.

Rain patters a metal roof as coffee warms up dry bones.

The Trickster Universe

What we seek is bound by our illusions...it is right in front of our eyes.

What we seek is bound by our illusions…it is right in front of our eyes.

The cosmos’s fabric reveals its bumps within the shadows we overlook. Peering down the hole illuminates the darkness and the lumps smooth into one, destroying the hidden connections which never existed.

We sometimes find unimaginable treasures… truths and realizations which link vastly separate and distinct things and then in this instant, these very links reveal that all links fall away.

We are given the most valuable thing, yet this same thing takes all value away.

Sometimes you have to laugh at the witty Universe, oh you clever trickster, full of only Love, hiding in plain sight.

Everything… today.

fleetingly forever

fleetingly forever

Contained within a moment exists all that ever was and all that ever will be. How can it be any other way? Just as the Big Bang contained all that ever could exist, it is that same right now, billions of years later.

In that moment, billions of years ago, there was no time, no space, no matter… vast emptiness… yet it certainly was not nothingness. It was everything-ness! Lol. And perhaps that emptiness wasn’t vast, but the opposite… tinier than tiny, lol. In fact, size didn’t exist. There was just emptiness. The fullest emptiness ever, lol.

That moment, it was timeless, and, by definition, it penetrates now. It transcends now. It is now.

The speed of light is the cosmic speed limit, yet within a Universe that began timeless, that limit doesn’t apply… it cannot apply.

Feeling one with all that is… feeling interconnected with all that is….. these are not airy-fairy, hippy-dippy words. They are not head-in-the-clouds, out of touch with ‘reality’ words. Yes, they can be, and perhaps they frequently are used in that manner, but when purpose and intent fall away from these words… these words ring true…ring Truth.

Now, I am not trying to say that science proves transcendental wisdom, that physics proves Buddhist philosophy.

Seeking truth requires honesty. It also requires courage… courage to temporarily let go of our deepest beliefs and see what we see remains.

A soft heart is not a weak heart… its softness actually is its strength. Let’s melt our hardened hearts a bit, let go of what we think is ‘protecting’ them and see what happens. What Truth emerges today? It has been patient for billions of years… is today a day for its freedom? For our freedom?

Shortcomings

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

Being kind to ourselves is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We constantly judge ourselves and perhaps magnify what we feel are our shortcomings. We never therefore are the person we think we should be. Who should we be if not who we already are?

Now, I feel I should be an understanding father, for example. And sometimes,  when I am feeling ill, for example, I will not be so understanding as a father. The other night, when reading bedtime stories to my 4-year-old son, he said he was thirsty. I was tired, in pain and wanted him to fall asleep already. I was impatient and the thought of having to walk down the stairs to get a glass of water made me imagine the burden on my hurting legs. I was fed-up. He also said his feet were cold and wanted socks on. I admit, I brushed his requests off and told him no, and to go to sleep. I was almost angry. Then I looked at his face.  He is 4. He was sad. He was cold and thirsty and I was being, well, frankly a jerk. To my own son. I swallowed my ego-mind, looked at him in the eyes and told him I was sorry, and I will get him water and kissed his head. His sad face melted a bit. After I got his water and he was drinking it, I got him some socks and put them on his feet for him. We laid down and he held me tight., now with a smile. I read him a story from his favorite night-time book and he quickly fell asleep.

I would have cried if I wasn’t still feeling angry.. though my anger was now at myself. I accepted my shortcoming and moved on…. But getting back to my opening … I think I should be a better father, and this keeps me trying,trying trying to always be the best father…but it also means I never accept myself for who I am right now. Sure, I never want to be complacent and think I am the world’s best papa, but I also know living in the future of some version of myself is not helpful.

So, there is a balance. Accepting who I am right now, but not giving up on becoming more… to unfold the Buddha already inherent inside me.

Reading a bedtime story can be the best Buddhist practice. Learning about compassion is there. Learning about Ego is there. Learning of acceptance and non-attachment is there. Learning about love is there.

Listening to our Hearts

Our deepest heart contains all the hearts of the Universe

Our deepest heart contains all the hearts of the Universe

Memories… our brains have lots… what about our hearts?

Our brains forget lots and lots of memories. .. is the same true of our hearts?

Can we ignore what our hearts feel?

We can trick our minds into believing lots of things, but our hearts?

Our hearts, our deep true heart can never be tricked.

Sometimes our hearts pound so strong, in ways we don’t fully understand, that we might try to ignore it, and we can use our brains to create elaborate traps that keep us too busy to pay attention to our hearts.

What am I trying to say?

We must try to never ignore our hearts, we must try to be mindful to any tricks of thought we use to ignore or discount our feelings deep inside, but, most importantly, we must not attach ourselves to this pounding heart. That may sound contradictory… but it is not… We simply need to acknowledge, accept and look head-on at our pounding heart, but with the realization that nothings remains, all things are in flux, even the unchanging pounding of our hearts.

Billions of Years Unfold in an Instant

Billions of years unfold in an instant

Billions of years unfold in an instant

Insects and flowers, flowers and insects… dancing, dancing, dancing….

Each carves the other, the never ending tango merges their hearts….

We all share this dance, everyone, everything, joins in! Bees, birds, flowers, skunks, people, rocks… you name it!

Some things share a more intimate dance, some are more distant. Feeling the endless interplay with all things among us, within us, lets our hearts melt into gratitude and love. Love.