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Daydream

I fell asleep beneath the flowers
For a couple of hours
On a beautiful day

I have to admit that I have lost a lot of motivation for a lot of things that I usually enjoy, blogging being one of those things, sadly. I am not sure what this is all about (depression? The weather?) but I guess instead of fighting it I will just go with it. I does fill me with a little bit of sadness though.

The two things that seem to be a constant are pinhole photography and running. I started training for another half-marathon and I’m really stoked about it. And I just got a new pinhole camera and I’m having a lot of fun with it. AND I have some good news in that department. My co-workers have asked me to display my pinhole photography at the library on our local artists wall! I was so honored that they asked. So I’m curating a few pinhole photos that I have taken at the library to hang for the couple of months on the art wall. Exciting stuff!

 

Here is a pinhole photo I took a couple of months ago on a nice day on a walk home from something, work probably. I got really focused on pinholing the pretty flowers I saw walking along. And then this Lupe Fiasco song popped into my head as I was shooting this. It’s on my running playlist and pops up often. This is the first time I’ve seen the video for this song. I like it!

Zombie Apocalypse

I knew I would have to face something bad at home, but I didn’t know what it was.

As I made my way there I had to go through a mall made entirely out of cardboard. I passed by some teens and asked them how things were at “home” (there was no name for this place). They stared at me with blank eyes. They had no idea what I was talking about.

Eventually I found my way inside a Best Buy. When I looked around I saw that everyone was laying on the floor, hiding behind something. I  realized I needed to get out of the open and hide, too.

I lay on the ground and then wondered what I was hiding from. I also realized that everyone around me were strangers and nobody knew my name. And I didn’t know who I could trust and who I couldn’t. I, somehow, came to the conclusion that we were hiding from zombies. I thought about how I would protect myself from the zombies. I felt so out of place. I was afraid. I didn’t know what I was doing or how I would do it. But I did know that I was there and that when the attack happened I would do what needed to be done, whatever that would be.

This is when my alarm went off. The realization that I was dreaming came with a huge relief and I thanked the universe that it was all just a dream.

A week ago two men were murdered on a MAX train  when they were coming to the aide of two teenagers being harassed by a white supremacist. One of the teens was black. The other was wearing a hijab. Another man was also stabbed but survived.

This incident has deeply affected me, on many levels. My first thought was, “that could have been Raf (my husband).” He takes MAX everyday and has encountered a fair amount of crazy on the commute. Then they released the names and pictures of the victims. One was a father and an army veteran. The other was a recent Reed College graduate, a bright future ahead of him. The survivor is a 21 year old poet. All of them were strangers. But they all did the right thing. They confronted hate. They did what we have all been told to do. They were brave. And they died in the process.

They didn’t know they were going to die on Friday when they boarded to train to commute home from work.

The last words that Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche said were, “Tell everyone on the train that I love them.”

What would my last words be? Would they be those words? I don’t know. Those are some incredible last words.

These are a few thoughts that are running through my head at the moment.

We finished our Precept Study at my Zen Center. During our discussion we each got a chance to talk. The MAX killings were on my mind so I talked about them. I said, “I don’t know what this has to do with the Precepts, though.” However, after our discussion (and with the help of our teacher) I understand now.

The men who stood up last Friday were coming from that place deep inside where we do the thing that is right. And we only really know it’s the right thing when we are in a precise moment. It comes from that very quiet, still place within each of us. In Buddhism we call that Buddha Nature. We have Buddha nature in each of us. There is a Bodhisattva in each of us. In each moment we can choose the Bodhisattva. These men chose the Bodhisattva.

I am unbelievably inspired by the outpouring of love from the people of Portland that has come out of all of this. I am inspired by the last words of Taliesan Myrddin Namkai-Meche. I am inspired by Micah Fletcher who said that, “we need to protect each other.”

We need to protect each other. We need to love each other.

Zombies exist. How do we see them? They are not wandering around with rotting flesh on the outside. They are rotting on the inside. We will know them by the hate that spews out of them. Our  weapon with which to fight them is love.

 

 

Gallery

#100happydays week 10

Last week was all about noticing. Lots of synchronicity going on in my life this week. I love it when that happens. 🙂

On Anger

The following is the transcript of a talk I gave this evening at my zen center about the Buddhist precept that addresses anger. This post is cross-posted at the Wy’East Zen Center Blog. 

Do not indulge anger – cultivate equanimity. In the realm of the selfless dharma, not contriving reality for the self is the precept of not indulging anger. Not advancing, not retreating, not real, not empty. There is a brilliant sea of clouds. There is a dignified sea of clouds.

Since we started doing precept study here at WEZC several years ago, the precept on anger has jumped out me.

First of all, the language is very much like a puzzle and it kind of hurts my brain. What does it mean to “Cultivate equanimity?” What is a “brilliant sea clouds?” For that matter, what is a “dignified sea of clouds”? What does  “not advancing, not retreating, not real, not empty” mean? This precept has made me think from the moment I first heard it.

On the surface it is pretty straightforward, “Don’t indulge anger.” Seems pretty simple. When I first started thinking about this precept, at first  I concluded that it means not to be angry. After a few years of thinking about it and working with it I realize this is not what this precept means at all.

Anger is one of the many, many emotions we feel as humans. Emotions are normal and OK. Experiencing emotions, positive or negative, is what we do. It is a biological process. Anger is one of these emotions. We are going to feel anger in our lifetime. We are probably going to feel anger a lot in our lifetime. We will probably indulge anger a lot in our lifetime too. This is perfectly normal human behavior.  

However, anger is one of those emotions where when it is indulged there is karma that is created. And then you have to deal with that karma. So use wisdom when you encounter anger.

This precept gives us advice on how to not indulge anger. The advice is to cultivate equanimity. I  like the use of the word “cultivate” here because in my mind I picture someone lovingly tending to their garden. When you cultivate a garden it is a process. Sometimes a daily process. It is something you keep an eye on and tend to. Cultivating also requires pulling weeds. Noticing the weeds, and discarding them so the garden can grow.

So how do we cultivate equanimity? There are probably many ways to cultivate equanimity. We can start by having a consistent zazen practice. Zazen helps us learn to quiet the mind so we can notice when anger arises in our lives. If we can notice that it arises we can take a step back from it and choose not to indulge it. We can choose how we we want to deal with it.

Anger does have it’s place.  Anger can tell us when something is wrong and that we need to do something.

Anger can be a powerful catalyst for change. I think about Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. His goal was to (according to Wikipedia) “expose “the inferno of exploitation [of the typical American factory worker at the turn of the 20th Century]” Do you think he was angry about the plight of the American worker? Yes, it sounds like  he was. But He used that anger to write The Jungle, And, indeed, That novel changed our country for the better. The book caused a public outcry and laws were created to make our lives better. When we step back from anger and work with it from a place of wisdom it can be a powerful force for change.

Here is a quote I came across that touches on this thought:

“This is the essential difference between ordinary anger and wrathful compassion. Ordinary anger is motivated by fear and aversion; wrathful compassion is motivated by love that has the courage to confront people for their own sake. Anger seeks to protect the self, or one’s own self-righteousness. Wrathful compassion seeks to protect all others, by challenging what harms them. The difference is quite clear.”

–  John Makransky, “Aren’t we right to be angry?” from Tricycle Magazine.

In our book, “Waking Up To What You Do,” there is the example of the woman who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving as a response to her anger at the person who killed her child while driving drunk. I think this is a really good example of what John Makransky is talking about in this quote.

Another interesting thing about this precept is that it explicitly states that it is the precept about not contriving reality for the self. I think maybe that of all the emotions this is the one that really gives shape to the ego when you are experiencing it. Here is a zen story that I think illustrates this idea very well:

The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.

One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?” The master’s face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that!?”

This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, “THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism.”

Source: Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors

 

In our book Rizzetto states, “Anger can also be a signal that alerts us to how we may be mistreated. It shines a light beam on  unacceptable abusive situations.” This is important! Anger can be our ally during bad situations. She goes on to tell the story of a student who was in an abusive situation and, as she was studying this precept, she realized that anger could have  helped her out of her abusive situation. Years later she recalls her experience when someone pushed her and she “stood her ground” and told the person very clearly “take your hands off of me.” She said that the anger felt “clean and real.”

I’ll end my talk with this quote from the book. I think it sums up what I’ve been talking about well:


“Sometimes, this precept is taken as a prohibition against all anger, pointing to the hurtful results of of its indulgence. But I think if we keep in mind that our aspiration is to respond rather than react to conditions and situations, then we can approach this precept not as a prohibition against all anger, but as an invitation to explore the difference between anger that springs out of old patterns of thinking and perceiving – a reaction – and anger that springs out as a clear indication of conditions and situations that do not serve life – a response.”

 

I still want to know what a “brilliant sea of clouds” is though.

 


About the photo:

This a pinhole image made during my One Pinhole A Day project. I loved this Lego sculpture made by one of the kids at the Lego Club at the library. The camera that I used was a Zero 2000 and the film I used was Portra 160.