Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Category

On Being a Man

Posted: 05/28/2011 in Compassion, Inspiration, Love

I found this story on Art Of Manliness, which is one of my favorite sites. I will admit, I had to go find a tissue after watching this. I don’t have a lot to say about it, other than it is the best example of being a hero.

This man gave his life to alleviate serious injury or death to his wife. I feel compassion for her in that she lost the love of her life and what she has to deal with now, but at least she can know she had someone who loved her to the depths of his core, and not only could say it, but proved it. Don Lansaw was a true man. Safe travels, sir.

The video would not embed, so you will have to click the link.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/#43174546

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gutter punk kids

For the last month or so, I have been looking for a new job. I need something stable, because my present job does not have enough projects going, and I’ve worked a total of 5 days in the last month. This job search has caused me to think a lot about “right livelihood” and how I could find something that would benefit others, rather than just being “employed” in a mundane industry. I have had a few ideas and have begun to research a few areas that are dear to my heart.

One in particular is homeless teens, or “gutter punks.” I see these kids on the street and it breaks my heart. I would love to create some sort of shelter in my area that would give them a place to stay, resources to go back to school, learn a vocation, etc. There is one place in town that does that, and I plan to volunteer there to get a feel of how it is run, and maybe branch out to do one on my own on this side of town. I would love to also offer meditation classes, that would be cool. I’m starting to research how to go about this because I have no idea if I could get a grant or what. If anyone has ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Earlier today I met with my friend/coworker to discuss a possible business venture. For a while now he has been recording his dad telling stories about his life, and posting them on a blog. He thought that might be a great idea to offer it as a service to other people, sort of like personal historians, but digitally. We grew up together and were reminiscing about our past, and I told him I wish my dad was still around today to tell a certain story. (On a side note, it’s ironic that we met today to discuss this venture, as today marks 9 years since my father passed away. I miss you, Dad). My buddy is right, that’s the exact reason we should offer this service.

Also, since we both teach music, we had a great idea to start a non-profit offering free music lessons to underprivileged and disabled children, and build a recording studio to let these kids have the experience of working in a studio. A local music store here has a program that puts young kids in bands, they write songs, and then perform at a battle of bands and get to record their songs. I have been a coach of this program for 5 years, and I tell you what, there is nothing like this experience. They meet for the first time one day and 2 months later they are playing songs that they wrote on a huge stage with Marshall stacks, pro audio, lights, smoke, etc., and then get to hear themselves on a cd.  I would like to provide that to kids that can’t afford lessons or young bands that can’t afford studio time.

This is kind of a random post, more like a journal entry than anything. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind as I sit here figuring out how to pay my bills. I need a new job, so no time like the present to explore these options of right livelihood. If anyone has any suggestions, comments, etc., please feel free.

\m/ Heavy Metta \m/

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Fishing - Silhouette

One reason I started this blog was to document the various experiences and challenges I have on this new path I have chosen to tread. Here is one challenge that is really messing with my head:

As I study more about Buddhism, I find that there are certain concepts and experiences that are so ingrained in my mind and way of life that it’s difficult to change my view to where it aligns with the precepts. I wanted to discuss one renunciation that has turned into a quandary for me, and that is the act of fishing.

Common sense tells me that fishing would fall into the “cause no harm to living beings” precept. I understand the fact that the very act of baiting a hook, whether with a live worm or plastic baits, in order to entice a fish into biting that hook and impaling itself in the mouth causes harm to a fish, and of course the worm if you use it. Trust me, I get it.

The reason it’s difficult for me to renounce is that I grew up fishing. My father was a man’s man: a carpenter, hunter, fisherman, mechanic, etc. He had quit hunting before I was old enough so I’ve never been hunting, but we still went fishing. It was wonderful out there experiencing nature, spending time just being quiet, hanging with my dad and learning how to be a man. I would give anything to be able to have him back, but those are fond memories, and I’m wavering from my topic. Anyways, when we went camping, we would always go fishing, it’s just part of that lifestyle, they go together like peas and carrots. Now that my friends want to plan a camping trip, I’m wondering what to do. I mean, besides fishing or going for a hike, what else is there to do while camping?

I can’t wait to get out into nature and just experience the fresh air and the retreat of it, but when it comes time for fishing, it’s going to be a challenge. Not just because of the questions that will be asked, but also the fact that the activity of fishing has always been fun for me. I’ve always loved going to sporting goods stores and shopping for fishing gear, organizing my equipment, the challenge of getting the fish to bite, being bummed out after a day of getting skunked, the whole she-bang. It’s so ingrained into my lifestyle, that all of the sudden refusing to do it anymore is boggling my mind. I’ve gone fishing for 30 years. I’ve been a Buddhist for less than one. Some lifestyle changes are going to be hard to swallow, I completely get that. Like becoming a vegetarian, I haven’t quite been able to make that jump yet, but I digress. I’m just talking about fishing here.

What I’m saying is that I do understand that the act of fishing is the act of causing harm to a sentient being and goes against the Buddhist precepts. I just wanted to put fingers to keyboard and document an issue I’m having on my path. If anyone would like to comment about this quandary I’m having, whether it be an insight or an insult, please do.

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Metta is Metal

Posted: 07/06/2010 in Compassion, Love, Metal, Music

**Edit: This is the first of a series of posts I am attempting about how Buddhism is Metal.**

Since I began my practice less than a year ago, I have been contemplating the connection between Heavy Metal and Buddhism and wondering if it is even possible. I have been asked how I can even consider being a Buddhist while continuing to “be metal.” On the surface, Heavy Metal – the music and the identity – seem to be polar opposite of the principles of Buddhism. However, I believe there is indeed a connection between metal and metta, or loving-kindness, and I would like to share a few examples.

An outsider looking in would view the violent lyrics and aggression portrayed at metal concerts as the opposite of the love and compassion that Buddhists strive to exude. But if those that have that judgment spent any time in a moshpit, they would find a great example of compassion that happens there. Yes, there are guys and girls that are violently thrashing into each other (and unfortunately with the advent of hardcore dancing, throwing punches and karate kicks), and pushing each other around. But every single pit I have been in, if someone falls, there are two or three people there to pick the person up, dust them off,  and then get right back to it. If that is not a display of compassion or metta, then I may not understand the definitions. Usually the band playing will even instruct the crowd to “take care of each other out there, we don’t want anyone hurt.” You see, heavy metal fans are a brotherhood. They take care of each other in the pit, they buy tickets to concerts when their friends cannot afford them (case in point: I’m looking at the ticket to Slayer my friend bought me), and when they see another metalhead wearing a band shirt, a connection is made and they end up discussing favorite albums, songs and similar bands. I don’t really want to get into the discussion of lyrics, because I’m a guitar player, not a vocalist and have never paid much attention to them. My point here has more to do with heavy metal as a whole, not just one factor such as lyrics.

Another great example is something I read about one of my heroes, Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott of Pantera fame, and I will try to remember the details and sum it up here because it’s an awesome example of loving-kindness. A few years ago, Dime did an autograph signing in a music store. There was this young kid that came up with his dad to get an autograph and had told Dime he wanted to be a guitar player just like him. After talking to him, Dime took the store manager off to the side and told him to have the boy and his dad hang out for a while. Long story short, when he had signed all the autographs he told the kid to pick out any guitar in the store he wanted and Dime would buy it. I still get choked up when I think of that story, because that is true metta. Here’s a guy who has sold millions of albums and toured the world with one of the most hardcore of hardcore metal bands, and yet he displays metta in such a heartwarming way. That’s just one story of many from that guy, a true metalhead, a rockstar, yet full of metta and no ego.

Here’s another example of the metta displayed in this community of metalheads, and it is from my own experience. Another of my guitar heroes is Zakk Wylde, who played with Ozzy Osbourne for years and has his own band Black Label Society. A couple years ago, Zakk did an acoustic tour at the Hard Rock Cafe, and stopped into our local radio station. I have a friend who works for the station and I was invited to go to the show but had no idea what was in store. I met my friend at the station and not knowing Zakk was still there, followed my buddy right into the conference room where Zakk was giving a guitar lesson to a contest winner, so I had the pleasure of watching that from across the table and just being there was the coolest thing ever. Even though his tour manager and the station manager were chomping at the bit to get going, I got a couple minutes to meet him. I happened to be wearing a Pantera t-shirt, and instead of just shaking hands, this guy grabbed me in a full-on bear hug. We shared a couple quick words about our love for Dime (they were best friends), snapped a couple pictures together, got an autograph, hugged again, and they rushed him off.

These are just a few examples of how I believe a metalhead can be a Buddhist, regardless of the violent stigma attached to heavy metal music and those in the metal community. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, as there may be other connections I have missed, and I would even like to hear if you think I’m wrong.

Metal metta to you! \m/