The life we actually have

“The path is the goal.” This quotation by Pema Chodron shared by Karl Duffy today communicates hope, no matter the apparently insurmountable obstacles or terror before us, threat or pain of death, threat or pain of annhilation, termination illness, incurable prognosis. As she says, “Everything is workable.”

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What does it take to use the life we already have in order to make us wiser rather than more stuck?  

The answer to these questions seems to have to do with bringing everything that we encounter to the path. Everything naturally had a ground, path, and fruition. But it is also said that the path itself is both the ground and the fruition. The path is the goal. This path has one very distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated. It doesn’t already exist. The path that we’re talking about is the moment-by-moment evolution of our experience, the moment-by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment-by-moment evolution of our thoughts and emotions. The path is uncharted. It comes into existence moment-by-moment and at the same time drops away behind us.

When we realize that the path is the goal, there’s a sense of workability. Everything that occurs…

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Haibun: Missing in Hamburg

A friend posted this about a young man who is missing in Hamburg Germany. His family is very worried. Please read and share.

Whippet Wisdom - a Highland Journey

two whippets in winter jackets sniffing seaweed near mouth of the river

It is twelve days ago today that a young man from these parts went missing. The timeless sky reflected in the water are part of the landscape he might still know as home. Concern is growing that he does not remember how to get back here. The small number of witness sightings since he disappeared speak of a man who seems confused and alone. It was meant to be a fun trip he had organised for his brother. With plans for meals, bars and drinks, a game of five-a-side football. He would not willingly abandon that. He would be in touch if he knew how to. If you are in Hamburg please look out for his face in the crowd.

wandering
a long way from home
snow is melting

© Xenia Tran

Missing in Hamburg Liam Colgan Poster

29 year old Inverness man Liam Colgan went missing in the early hours of 10th February 2018 during…

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Your Diversion: Permission

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Graphic from Pinterest, attributed To Brene Brown

Permit, consent, allow, let, give

  • Permit ourselves, permit others.
  • Consent to something, consent to someone.
  • Allow yourself, allow another, allow for something.
  • Let yourself, let someone, let something.
  • Give permission, give consent, give allowance. 

This week there’s much from which we might wish to divert ourselves. Rather than remind us all of what is wrong in the world today, let’s look at some good things, even in surprising places.

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And Still She Persisted, mixed media by Jill Jacobs

First, here’s a story of courage.

An 18 year old woman was riding around one night in a car in Brooklyn with two male friends. They were pulled over by NYPD officers in an unmarked van. There was pot in the car. The guys were let go but the girl was detained in the van. They never arrested her nor did they document the stop in any way. She has accused the officers of taking turns raping her in the van and then dropping her by the side of a deserted road.

The case is dragging slowly through the courts. She was deposed for 12 hours over a three-day period by lawyers for the City. Her courage is monumental, because despite all her social media posts since middle school and sex life being examined in the utmost detail for some evidence to discredit her, still she has persisted. The kicker? Her mother took her to an ER and lo and behold, DNA of both cops was found on her person. Dead to rights, right? No! In New York State it is not illegal for police to have sex with persons in their custody! Nor is it illegal in more than half the states in the US. The whole case is boiling down to consent. The two cops, both no longer with the force, claim the sex they took turns having with her, while she says she was handcuffed, was consensual. She vehemently denies this. Read more from Buzzfeed here. And let’s follow her case. If she can hold fast and persist despite the pressure, legal bullying and they-said-she-said applying unimaginable pressure on this teenage girl, she can change our world.

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Whether you are fighting City Hall, literally as we’ve just read, or figuratively in some other way, even if you’re trying to swim against the current in your relationship, your job or your community, you need love. So a meditation to help you feel that love for yourself is a must. Lion’s Roar offers you just the thing with some fine meditation instructions.

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Sarah Blondin, Live Awake

Speaking of meditation, I am totally enthralled with the guided meditations of writer Sarah Blondin. Her Live Awake podcasts are available online on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Insight Timer, among other places. Since we are all about consent and permission in this post, let me share with you her lovely voice asking to give you permission to allow yourself all good things.

And since permission and consent involve giving, the late and much missed Kate Wolf with her hauntingly beautiful voice sings us out.

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Year 2, Week 1

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Starting the second year of this blog, I’m thinking about where we stand. What does that mean? Where I stand is where I am in this moment, sitting in the living room looking out on the small lake to our west, while my husband watches football. Where do we stand as a country? Boy, I wish I really knew. Yesterday people in Hawaii were scared out of their wits when an imminent ballistic missile attack alert came over cellphones, TV broadcasts and from outdoor speakers. It took a full 38 minutes for the official push announcement to come through on cellphones that it was a false alarm. 38 minutes! People were running around like crazy, some even lowering their kids down the manholes of storm drains.

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Photo from Pinterest

Most of us baby boomers can recall the Cold War air raid drills in the 1950s and early 1960s where we had to crouch under our desks with our hands over our heads, preparing for the possibility of nuclear attack. Many still harbor vestiges of those early fears of being attacked by a missile with a nuclear warhead. We learned as we got older that hiding under a desk would have done nothing to prevent our extreme injury or annihilation, as the entire industrialized world knew after Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Some of us wondered when the bomb was going to get us, and how old we would be when it did. Some families actually built bomb shelters in their back yards. It was a thing. I knew a kid whose family had one. Did you?

Most parents and working adults today have no such memories and only know the recent feud the so-called leader of the free world has been fomenting with North Korea as a potentially imminent threat. No “duck and cover” drills for them. Yet out of fear and chaos yesterday, little kids were dropped by their parents into storm drains! Given that Hawaii is closer to North Korea than the US mainland, within reach of their missiles, and that Pearl Harbor was the site of a deadly attack on Hawaii, this preventable false alarm seems especially cruel.

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Drawing from moziru.com

Now that I’ve scared you, tweaking that old nuclear specter from your unconscious yet again, let’s get diverted! This may seem counterintuitive, but to be relieved of  the torment of this fear, you are going to have to look at it. As a psychologist, I know this from professional as well as personal experience, and although it’s not necessarily easy, doing it really helps. Experiencing fear is a form of suffering. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said that rather than running from our suffering, we can hold it as we would a crying child and we will suffer less. You can read more about this in his book No Mud, No Lotus. Here is an excerpt from Goodreads:

The function of mindfulness is, first, to recognize the suffering and then to take care of the suffering. The work of mindfulness is first to recognize the suffering and second to embrace it. A mother taking care of a crying baby naturally will take the child into her arms without suppressing, judging it, or ignoring the crying. Mindfulness is like that mother, recognizing and embracing suffering without judgement.

So the practice is not to fight or suppress the feeling, but rather to cradle it with a lot of tenderness. When a mother embraces her child, that energy of tenderness begins to penetrate into the body of the child. Even if the mother doesn’t understand at first why the child is suffering and she needs some time to find out what the difficulty is, just her act of taking the child into her arms with tenderness can already bring relief. If we can recognize and cradle the suffering while we breathe mindfully, there is relief already.

― Thich Nhat Hanh, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

So let’s imagine for a moment the fear evoked by that scary reaper, or descending nuclear annihilation or fire of death or whatever you will.  As you allow yourself to think of this fear, see if you can pinpoint what are you actually afraid of.  Is it pain? Death? Nonexistence? Separation from loved ones? Seeing loved ones hurt or dead? Losing your possessions? Living under tyranny or despotism? Okay, if you know what fear thoughts of a nuclear attack evokes, imagine you can hold it in your arms. Give your fear loving, caring attention. Don’t try to silence it with a mood-changing substance or activity. Just sit with it, if even for only a minute. Breathe deeply as you hold your fear. Breathe in with awareness, and breathe out with gratitude. You might do it for a few minutes longer, but only if you want to and feel you can. Now take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths and go do something else. Good for you!

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Photo from quartz.com

Another diversion for you, more interesting than that first one, I suspect. Former Army soldier Chelsea Manning has decided to run for the US Senate in the state of Maryland as a Democrat. This will pit her against veteran Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, a tough slog due to his strong role fighting for progressive issues and taking on Russian interference in the recent presidential election. Chelsea may not win, but she’s definitely showing her mettle. This Guardian story elaborates and includes her YouTube video.

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Something more fun, you ask? Okay, there’s a new bar in Brooklyn called “Kick Axe” where drinkers can throw axes at a target! Wheee! Can’t wait! Um…

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Photo from #catpusic on Pinterest

More? Love inspiring kitty stories? Me too! Meet a cute black and white cat named Pusic.

Since the prospect of nuclear war arguably spawned some of the best the folk music of the 1960’s, let’s not forget that “The Times They are A’Changin” then and now. And since we heard this anthem from composer Bob Dylan earlier, now we can enjoy Simon and Garfunkel covering it.

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 52

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Week 52 has arrived and I’m pretty late in getting to it. I’m not sure why my blogging year is up before January 20th, but so it is! It’s been a busy week for us, nothing worth noting here, but plenty nevertheless. The news continues to create stress and distress, especially the devastating mudslides in Southern California. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage and even worse to learn about the deaths of people and countless pets. Sometimes it feels as if Mother Nature is trying to shake us loose with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods.

 

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Hillary Brooke (1914-1999) (photo from Wikipedia)

My first diversion this week is a tribute to a woman I knew in childhood, actress Hillary Brooke. She was an actress, first noticed in “New Faces of 1937” and she appeared in Abbott and Costello sketches and even had a role in the ‘70s TV show “Soap” and My Little Margie” decades before that. Her name was Hillary Brooke. I met her as a friend of my godmother, a lovely Englishwoman who worked as a diction coach in the film industry and taught Hillary her distinctive, plummy British accent. She was born in Astoria, Queens, after all! Hillary gave me my set of Mary Poppins books, and took me hitchhiking when I was about 12 years old during a stay at my godmother’s mountain cabin, after walking back from the little town center tired us out. She had a dog, a black Scottie named Barney. Hillary was the most glamorous, fascinating woman I’d met at that time. Growing up in Southern California, I met quite a few people in the entertainment industry, most friends and clients of my father. Hillary was the first, and I remember her with love.

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Photo by Peter Landers, Wall Street Journal

Okay, next I have a weird diversion for you. In Japan an unusual version of Coca Cola is grabbing attention. Called Coca Cola Plus, it contains a high fiber, laxative additive that fans believe allows them to eat unhealthy food and not digest the fat, thereby leading some to dub it “weight loss cola” as opposed to regular or “fat” cola. If you have trouble accessing the WSJ article here, since they have a paywall, TimeOut Beijing has the goods. And the text in the second link is funnier!

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Now, remember Superstorm Sandy? So does the City of New York, and the City as an investment entity recognizes climate change as the result of fossil fuels raising the planet’s temperature. Therefore, the City is severing ties with their fossil fuel investments. This divestiture could be a huge deal in global economics and spur positive change.

And there’s no one like Bob Dylan to remind us that A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.

Cheers, all, and…

Namasté

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If Only He Were a Cat! by Diana St Ruth

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Happy New Year, everyone! This post by Diana St Ruth really struck me as a cat lover, especially regarding my expectations of others. I have always gravitated to the aloof cat more readily than the excitedly friendly dog. I love how Diana teaches Buddhist truths. These observations promise to help me make this a good year, whatever else happens. And fortuitously, in December we have applied to be “cat socializers” at our local shelter and will have our orientation in a couple of weeks. When the student is ready the teacher comes.

Namasté

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Buddhism now

Photo of Sam and Diana.If you like cats—if you are a total fool when it comes to cats, as I am—you will probably make a beeline for them when you see them in the street, and pet them if they’ll let you. But you won’t be upset if they turn their backs on you, stick their tails in the air, and walk off—because that’s how cats are. And if your cat at home makes self-centred demands—as they are wont to do—you probably won’t mind in the least. And they can be quite moody—all over you one minute and ignoring you the next—but you simply won’t mind, because you don’t expect cats to be any other way. So, cat lovers tolerate their cats’ little quirks and foibles with ease and just think: ‘Oh well, that’s cats for you!’

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