Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category

Yes, it has been awhile since I have posted on my blog. Life has been a whirlwind as of late, and even though I have had the time due to not working much, I have not had the motivation. This happens pretty frequently. There are times when I feel my only escape from the normal bullshit of life is to open a text editor and go to town. Then there are times when I feel so complacent and apathetic I don’t feel like doing shit. As far as my practice is concerned, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I sat down to meditate.

Since there have been changes to my life over the last few months, there have been a lot of questions: Will I get to work next week? How am I going to pay those bills? How do I dig out of this hole I’m in financially and emotionally?

The end of February also marks the time of year where I find myself depressed due to it being my son’s birthday and a week later the anniversary of his death. It’s been 6 years but the pain is still there. I know there is a lesson in all of this as far as practice goes but right now I’m swimming in confusion.

However, as I’m typing this, I am realizing where my practice has been. I’ve been keeping busy making improvements to my new residence; cleaning the carpets and such. My roommates and I have been working on the yard, clearing out weeds and trimming dead branches and also planning a garden. We have started the seeds, and within a couple months are hoping to enjoy the fruit (and vegetables) of our labors. It’s hard work, yet it is exciting to see the transformation. So there is my practice; out with the old and in with the new. Sweep the dust and push the dirt (as my dharma homie ZDZD says).

I’ve also been able to spend some more time with my son, which is great. My roommate/best friend/boss (now that he got promoted to DM!) recently got me into playing disc golf, and in turn we got my son into it as well, so I bought him his own set of discs for his birthday. I have found an activity that gives us a chance to not only spend time quality time together, we get to be outside, where the courses are setup in a way that it’s like being on a nature hike. That, and we got a killer deal on a ping pong table!

My apologies for the stream of consciousness, but that’s the product of my state of mind lately.

Peace,

\m/ Metal Buddha \m/

Advertisements

The Zen of Moving

Posted: 01/13/2011 in Happiness, Spiritual

As of the first of this year, I have relocated from living with my family into a house with my best friend since childhood/coworker. This is the reason I haven’t had much of an online presence as of late. Between packing, moving and unpacking/organizing all while trying to work and spend time with my son, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything.

It was a big change for me, and it was definitely time to make the move to mark a turning point in my life recovering from the craziness that has surrounded me for the last year and a half. The divorce is almost final and I have a good job…although the time off sucks.

I needed this.

It gave me a chance to start fresh. Change is inevitable, and I’ve always tried to welcome it in my life, even though sometimes it’s hard to handle. It’s a true test of my mettle (metal? haha) how I respond to changes, forced and unforced. My intent is to accept whatever comes my way with open arms and just be. Life happens, and accepting the good and bad is part of it whether we like it or not. Yes, it will be rough financially, but I have accepted the fact that I can only do what I can do, no sense in worrying about it. I will just shrug my shoulders and find the best solution rather than laying awake at night stressing about it. Well, at least I will try.

I don’t know if moving is really Zen, but hey, the title caught your eye, right?

With Heavy Metta,

\m/Metal Buddha\m/

Photo Credit

Yes, I named this post after a song from that cheesy band Dragonforce, but it was the first song about fire that came to mind. Sue me.

As I was sitting in meditation earlier today, I started to lose focus on the breath and my eyes wandered to the dancing flame of a lit candle. I was mesmerized and it made me think about fire and how it is used can be good or bad, all dependent on the purpose or intention behind it.

We can strike a flame to light a candle, which in turn can light another candle, and so on and so forth, bringing light to darkness, such as in a vigil, fostering community, love, and remembrance.

We can strike a flame to bring warmth to a cold house.

We can strike a flame to cook a meal to provide sustenance to a hungry stomach.

Or on the flipside, an arsonist can strike a flame to burn down a building or cause a forest fire.

I think what it boils down to is the intention behind the striking of the flame. Fire is a dangerous thing. It burns and consumes anything in its path. How it is used determines whether the outcome is good or bad:  a meal to feed the hungry or a burned down house.

It’s the same way with our words. How they are used determines whether the outcome is good or bad: we can give someone hope who otherwise thinks their life sucks or we can use our words to be hurtful and damage their emotions further.

Fire is powerful. Words are powerful. Use them wisely.

Meditate and destroy,

\m/

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted: 11/25/2010 in Social, Spiritual

I know I’m a bit late on this, as the day is almost over, but I wanted to say I hope the three of you that read this blog had a Happy Thanksgiving and spent some valuable time with your family and/or friends.

I had a quandary as far as what to do about Thanksgiving Dinner, being a new vegetarian and all. The problem was solved when I was informed that my mom and her husband would be coming over to my sister’s house for breakfast and we would not be doing a turkey dinner. No problem: eggs, pancakes and biscuits while they eat the bacon. My sister and brother-in-law went to his family’s house for a turkey dinner and I wasn’t into that so I didn’t have to worry about the turkey temptation or the explanation of the vegetarian thing to everyone including the man of the house who is an avid hunter.

I will admit, it brought me down a bit. Even though I was able to spend the morning with my family, it just wasn’t the same. The turkey dinner and pumpkin pie with the family has been part of my life for 34 years. This year I was by myself having homemade udon noodle stir-fry and cookies from Dollar Tree. I shouldn’t complain, this morning I spent time with my mom and I had my son. It was just…different.

But then again, this whole past year has been different, with all kinds of changes. Last Thanksgiving was my first in 7 years without my wife and her family, eating her mother’s legendary stuffing. This year it’s spending the evening alone with the dogs watching shitty reality TV.

Not bad, not good. Just…different.

Meditate and Destroy,

\m/ Metal Buddha \m/

Whenever we take a road trip somewhere, we have to stop for fuel or to take care of our human necessities, so we stop at a gas station or rest stop along the way. We need to get out and stretch our legs after being cooped up in a cage. I have related my practice to a road trip and for the past couple months I have been hanging out at the rest stop.

This past summer, I was off work for a couple of months so it was easy to focus on practice; meditating multiple times a day, devouring Buddhist-themes books, write on my blog, etc. When work started again and I’ve been getting up at 2am and driving all over Northern California and Nevada, getting back each day to spend a few hours with my son, then take him home so I can go to bed just to get up and do it all over again the next day, it’s been wearing on me. This means my practice has suffered, and I can tell in my attitude and stress level. In addition to trying to be a good father and the busy-ness of work, the tertiary bullshit in life has been wearing on me as well.

Because of seemingly jumping back into the same boat I was in mentally and emotionally before I started this practice, I’ve made it a point to pack up and leave the rest stop. I’ve stretched my legs enough, and now it’s time to get back on the road and continue this journey. See you on the road.

 

Meditate and Destroy,

\m/ Metal Buddha \m/

Cyber-Sangha!

Posted: 07/26/2010 in sangha, Spiritual

The Sangha

I’m at the point in my practice of Buddhism where I have started to explore the sangha experience.  Until now, I have spent my time studying, contemplating and meditating. I’ve been an island. However, to keep the motivation to trudge the path, I realize some sort of community experience is needed. Twitter has helped greatly, as dharma teachings are present in even those 140 character blurbs by many of those I follow. Writing this blog has also helped, as I am able to put fingers to keyboard and explore my impressions along the path. Reading the many blogs in the Buddhist Blogospere is also a way to connect to others in practice. However, I do feel I need more.

I have done a bit of searching for an actual real-life sangha in my area, and other than the Lion’s Roar Dharma Center, I have not found much in the way of a group setting that can fit into my wacky schedule. I had the pleasure of attending a dharma talk by Choden Rinpoche this past weekend at Lion’s Roar, and that was a wonderful experience. I would love to attend some sort of retreat, and have researched the possibilities, and unfortunately it’s not in the cards right now due to work and family obligations, among the other “bullshit” I’m dealing with in my life, namely financial, but I digress.

Last week, my friend @ZenOutlaw came up with a wonderful idea of an online meditation group. It is the Online Meditation Crew and I would encourage anyone who is interested, no matter your tradition of study, to join the group and have some togetherness meditation, virtually. It is a great feeling to know that, in a way, I am participating in a sangha. There is accountability as well as the motivation to practice. For those of us that are not able to be a part of an actual sangha, this is the next best thing: a cyber-sangha. Check out the first post to see how the process goes, or if you are a Twitter user, add the crew members there for the call to meditate. It could be a scheduled meditation once or twice a day, or it could be a “stop. drop. meditate” sort of thing, where we stop what we’re doing and just sit.

You may say that it isn’t the same as a traditional sangha due to the fact that there is no dharma discussion. But if you check out the website, you will find that each post has a comment area where crew members can detail their impressions from the meditation, and I anticipate the potential for some very deep dharma discussion to happen in this cyber-sangha. Of course it isn’t the same, but I believe it is an optimal supplement to the traditional sangha experience.

Until I find an actual sangha that I am able to participate in, I will use these tools to expand my understanding of the dharma and to keep my feet on the path. I welcome any comments, whether it be constructive criticism or your own experience with this issue.

With metal metta! \m/

Photo Credit

Meditation is Metal

Posted: 07/15/2010 in Metal, Music, Spiritual

Meditation

This is part 2 in a series of posts about how I believe Buddhism is Metal.

I’m sure anyone who is reading this has at least looked for information on meditation, so I’m not going to delve into a lengthy monologue about meditation. I just want to spit-ball about how I think it relates to metal, and music in general, from my own experience.

I believe the connection involved here is “practice.” We call this spiritual journey we are on, of which meditation is one of the central aspects, a “practice.” This means that a beginning meditator has not attained the ultimate goal. Some would define the goal as enlightenment, you can define it however you want. We don’t just wake up one morning, cross our legs and breathe in and out for a half hour and immediately attain the goal. It takes time to learn the basics and practice just to learn to freakin’ breathe, and to focus on that breath. The more you do it, the more you advance into the meditations on mindfulness, loving-kindness, etc.

Learning to play metal, and music in general, is the same way. You don’t wake up one morning and watch a video on MTV, (yes, I’m referring to back when MTV had music) and see the dudes shredding on Headbangers Ball, decide you want to do it too and immediately start shredding. It takes years to learn the basics and practicing chords and scales (freakin’ scales!) to attain the level of ability it takes to play metal. Do you see a pattern here?

I would also relate meditation to playing music in front of an audience. Have you ever watched a musician play and they seem to be in a groove such that the sound that comes from their fingers is nothing short of amazing? Their eyes are closed, they appear to be in a state of samadhi, they are “in the zone.” This my friends, is meditation in my opinion. I have had the pleasure to play with other musicians where we got locked into such a groove that I felt to be in that state of consciousness, and this was way before I knew anything about meditation.

One more example would be falling out of practice. I’ve noticed that when I’m a slacker and don’t sit, I get irritable, I’m not as mindful of how I react to people, and can even be a complete douchebag. The way I handle my day-to-day experiences reminds me that I need to get my ass back on the cushion. The same thing happened when I stopped practicing guitar. My fingers wouldn’t move where I wanted to, and I lost my “chops,” which caused even more frustration and I just say “fuck it” and put the guitar down. This is how it has been for the last few years. Playing music has been on the back burner, but I’ve been inspired to pick it back up and make it a higher priority; sitting my ass back down and practicing – both meditation and guitar. The good news with meditation and metal/music is that it’s never too late to start practicing again.

And speaking of shredding…

Keep it Metal \m/

Photo credit

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.”

Photo credit

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!

Photo credit

Journey of a Dream

Posted: 05/26/2010 in Metal, Music, Spiritual

I found out about this feature length film from Nate over at Precious Metal and I’m really looking forward to watching this. It’s a documentary about a Tibetan Refugee and Buddhist who is also in a Death Metal band called Avatara. Here’s a trailer for the film:

I can’t wait to see it!