Archive for June, 2010

The Banyan Deer

by Rafe Martin

Illustrated by Richard Wehrman

When I was contacted by Wisdom Publications to review The Banyan Deer by Rafe Martin, I was pretty excited because I had read in their catalog that it was a book to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Well, since I have an 11 year old son, I thought, “hey, I can do a review and include his thoughts too!” Well, that didn’t work out quite as planned. I had him read the book, but since it didn’t have to do with skateboarding, it wasn’t “his thing” and I had to understand that, him being a pre-teen and all. So I will just share my own thoughts.

When the book arrived, my first thought was that this book was a collectible, not just because of the story, but physically. A hardback with a beautifully illustrated dustjacket, it’s the type of book that could be found near the checkout of a large bookstore, an impulse buy. Anyone who would purchase this impulsively would have a great piece to add to their library.

Martin’s story of one king teaching another king a lesson of compassion challenges the reader to examine his/her own level of compassion for others, be it humans and animals alike. Wonderfully illustrated by Richard Wehrman, The Banyan Deer indeed has the style of a children’s novel, although based on the experience with my son, is more geared to younger children. The book would be a great choice for a bedtime story and is highly recommended for the parent who wants to instill the principles of courage and compassion in the early stages of their child’s mind and heart.

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LONELY TREE

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend, and the subject of me no longer being in a relationship came up. I told her that I was happy being alone and unattached to anyone at this present time. She could not believe it and actually laughed. I told her I’m honestly happy right now because I have more time to focus on myself and some growing I need to do as a person, and left it at that. That conversation got me thinking about the difference between loneliness and being alone.

When feeling lonely, we crave interaction with other human beings, and we all know what craving leads to: suffering. Are people so uncomfortable in their own skin that they must have interaction with other people constantly? I guess some people are that way, not able to face their own demons or skeletons in the closet if they are alone with their own minds for too long. They desire the distraction of other people and the drama that comes with it. There is an emptiness inside that some strive to fill with human contact, delaying or outright denying any emotional or mental growth. Of course interpersonal relationships are very much needed for personal growth, however, I believe that there needs to be a good balance of social and self, and some cannot handle the self part.

At this present time, I prefer to be alone, which I feel is much different that feeling lonely. Yes, there are times that I desire to have companionship again, someone to share my deepest thoughts, goals, dreams, etc. I’m sure in the future that will come in due time. But for now, I am living in the present moment, and this moment calls for being alone, focusing on me and the changes I need to make in myself. I view this as a positive thing, not a negative because there is no constant feeling of emptiness. At times it’s no picnic; being alone can be a scary thing, but it takes a strong will to work through that in a healthy way, and learn from the experience. But in general, I am happy being alone on this new journey of  meditation practice and am up to the challenge of the experience.

In meditation, we have no choice but to open the closet and drag the skeletons out, to face the demons. It takes strength mentally and emotionally to be able to do that. I feel compassion for those that crave interaction so much that they don’t have the ability to embrace “being alone.”

May all those who feel that craving overcome it, to embrace that “aloneness” and not feel “loneliness.”

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Integrity

Posted: 06/20/2010 in Karma, Social, Spiritual, Truth

One thing that really gets my goat is when my integrity is challenged. I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who instilled in me values like being a man of my word, trustworthiness and honesty. I pride myself (but not too much!) on having integrity. If I say I will do something, I will damn well do it, not lie about it.

Today, my integrity was called into question by someone very close to me. If this person had taken 2 seconds to investigate a little further the facts of the matter, they would have found out the truth. Instead, I was confronted and accused of lying. My blood started to boil (still dealing with anger, of course – hey, it’s a marathon, not a sprint), but I gathered my thoughts before speaking and very calmly explained what really happened in the situation. I was obviously defensive, but did my best to respond in a loving way so as not to cause a dramatic “discussion” and ended up coming off as condescending and the battle lines had been drawn.

So the way I see it is even though it’s not fair when we know we’ve been honest about something and are accused of the opposite – that’s life. And life isn’t fair sometimes. I know in my heart I acted with integrity and that’s good enough for me. We’re the only ones who control how we feel, act, respond and react to any given situation, so we can’t let someone else cause us emotional suffering. If anyone has any thoughts on this as it relates to the Dharma, I would love it if you chimed in!

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FML?

Posted: 06/06/2010 in Karma, Negativity, Positivity

http://www.flickr.com/photos/noquedanfotos/3495967586/

Photo: Sabino via FLickr

FML aka Fuck My Life: I wonder if that’s something I should be saying? Here’s a quick anecdote for ya…

This past week has been a rough one. My tank was running on empty due to lack of sleep, and it was a challenge to stay calm and not show any irritability to others around me, because if you’re like me, you may get a little cranky when tired. Then I had something stolen from me at work and was even able to view the security footage, so not only did I find the item stolen, I got to watch it happen 20 minutes later on film. It turns out if I would have come back to my bag 15 seconds earlier, I would have caught the perpetrator in the act. Normally I would be really pissed off,  but I surprised myself by being very calm, and not flying into a rage over it, especially because thievery is one thing that really gets my goat. But then again, maybe I was too tired to be pissed.

Seriously though, I think the reason I was calm is because I looked at it as a karma issue and learned a lesson from it. Earlier in the week, I knew I was scheduled to go into a city that is known as a very high crime area, and I had joked to a couple people saying “hey, I’m going to Oakland on Thursday, maybe I should get a gun!” I kind of think it was karma catching up with me when I vocalized a stereotype, then I had something stolen from me at that very place I joked about.

So that makes me wonder, should I be uttering the words “FML” or “Fuck my life?” That’s really a negative outlook, so based on what I learned this past week, I should be careful joking about certain things. Feeding the stereotype of Oakland being a high crime area by making a joke didn’t work out too well for me since a crime was committed against me while I was there for one day. I basically asked for it, right? I shouldn’t say “fuck my life” because that opens me up subconsciously to negative things happening or at least inviting them to happen.

If you’ve read any of my blog, you will know that I’m new to this, and would love someone to comment and tell me if I am viewing this correctly according to Buddhist principles, or hell, tell me I have it all wrong, I want to know. What I do know is that I won’t be saying “FML” anymore!