Thursday, November 23, 2017


I've gotten away from moving through the 37 Bodhisattva practices: #1 and #2 are done.

The third practices is:

By avoiding bad objects, disturbing emotions gradually decrease
Without distraction, virtuous action nationally increase
With clarity of mind, conviction in the teacher arises.
Cultivate seclusion--This is the practice of the Bodhisattva

That sounds like advice from a Theravadan. The cannon of Mahayana texts comes after the word of the Buddha, though they says they are part of it. It is riffing off the life of the Buddha, combating a sort of isolating self spiritual pursuit. The Bodhisattva goes for Enlightenment with everyone.

Today we have all the texts and don't have to be sectarian, there is one dharma. It's a false dichotomy arhant/bodhisattva. One needs to retreat at times and develop with practices.

There's a group on Facebook called Western Buddhism. People ask questions and post logical conundrums. I want to ask people what their practices are, what do they do, and does it work and how it works.

I have gotten nothing but the culture that if you want to criticize someone, look at yourself. It does not behoove your practice to criticize others. Anyway, we can only control our spiritual lives. Energy invested in progressing yourself instead of criticizing others, is the ideal. It's not that we can't comment on others practices. It's just more like frivolous speech that it is harmonious speech.

Bodhisattva fever

Started reading Training The Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa. He's got interesting language, "bodhisattva fever" and "cosmic monster". The book based off the seven point mind training. They are useful slogans that because of their small nature are open to wide interpretation but are best studied with a teacher. There are many version of explication available, even though this used to be a person to person oral teaching.

I can't but help think of his reckless behavior causing suffering. I won't go into. He had that crazy wisdom and tried to shake things up. He had a military unit in Shambhala. Watch the movie Crazy Wisdom. I think they cut out some of the more negative consequences in the release version.

He was among the few survivors who got out, lived a challenging life, with a terrible car accident. He founded Shambhala which is an amazing thing in itself. Founding a sect of American Buddhism or western Buddhism is no small feat. Lots of good in his life.

I agree with bell hooks that the good doesn't erase the negative in terms of using the word love. There has been a lot of abuse by Buddhist teachers. After the Weinstein effect, many people are complaining about abuses of power. I am not immune to sexual misconduct. America gobbled up Trungpa's teachings because Buddhism was new to America. Nevertheless I am reading his book with my critical faculties alive. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Love continued

In all about love, the chapter on mutuality was a bit challenging to hear, but I can't say hooks is wrong. She contends that men seek out partners to mother them, to preserve their peter pan-ness. Men want to be loved without having to extend themselves and evolve, able to not communicate when they don't want to. Women are then put into the nagging position and that is when men can use violence to shut up the nagging. hooks puts the blame for this whole situation on men, and suggest that blaming women or even trying to see it equally at fault, is to not see the situation clearly. I'm sure these themes are developed further on her book about men and love.

She discusses divine love and romantic love. I remember in college I thought Gitangali by Tagore was about romantic love, but it was about divine love. Boy was I embarrassed.

Now I'm on the chapter of loss. She talks about love of death versus love. She quote Fromm, and that got me thinking about the death instinct. I think we're in an era of the death instinct. I think policies of government are known to increase deaths. Until we can cherish all life, I'm afraid we're doomed. I should speak, I hardly control my own negativity, acting in my own self interest is hard somehow.

The book is an up and down mixed bag, but I'm really enjoying it. I find it worthy of following her thoughts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


bell hooks had a powerful chapter on greed in her book all about love. I'm not going to summarize or quote it. It moved me a lot.

hooks thinks the best way to get love is to avoid romantic relationships and have a circle of family and friends who are truly loving, that stand the test of time. She thinks small communities are best for this.

I've gotten friendly with a Colombian woman at the park, who has a daughter one month younger than mine. She says in NYC, people are not friendly because everyone is wary and rightly so. But someone at the park with a child is unlikely to whip out a gun. I work to build community in my neighborhood. Unfortunately everyone worth being friends with works and comes home to gork at the TV. Mothers at the park are interesting but primarily concerned with the children, I have to run after my daughter when she runs away, which is not conducive to conversation. I'm thinking I'm going to make more of an effort to befriend the males that live near me. But to tell you the truth, I do want to move to a small town, I'm over NYC.

In the mail I have 2 more books on Love, never mind all the ones hooks recommends. The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters is by a doctor with a doctorate, Armin A. Zahed, a professor at Johns Hopkins medical school.

Big Love is by Scott Stabile who is an inspirational writer from Brooklyn.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Parenting and the dhamma

"If you’re a parent, for instance, a large component of your practice might center on understanding and thereby attempting to release the feelings of stress that arise around your children’s welfare. The very areas of your life that are sources of suffering for you can also help you to develop all the inner qualities which are necessary for attaining peace. Ajahn Viradhammo

Monday, November 06, 2017


In bell hooks' all about love she writes about the importance of honesty in association with love in chapter 3. When someone asks her if she liked a present, she is honest with them. Often times people are upset at what they hear.

I think sometimes in language you have to translate social conventions into what they really are. If someone asks if you like a present, they want a thank you really. They don't want honesty. They may want a hint of honesty, to see if it was a good present or not. To my utter shame and cringing I once told my uncle that I didn't really like the Star Wars spaceship he got for me for Christmas. I think the sentiment is wonderful. My uncle loves me and tried to get me something I would like. All kids liked Star Wars. He was really sweet and I responded with harsh truth. I think speaking the unvarnished truth, at times, is socially jarring and shows a lack of empathy for the other person.

Another example is, "how do I look?" I think the important thing to communicate is that you love someone, find them capable of being attractive, that their presentation matches the awesomeness that you see in them. To say, "I don't like bangs," or shoulder ruffles or whatever isn't really something to break out at that moment if it is the truth. Of course people will be angry if they later find out that you don't like bangs, so there is some questions. Anyway, if you want to go ahead and say you're, "not a fan of bangs, but they seem to pull it off," that captures both truth and commitment to a person.

This brings up the question of verbal dexterity. I'm not great in the moment in communicating often. It is to not accept me to think I should stop this immediately. I've been learning scripts my whole life to try and be apt in the moment, but novelty outstretches my experience. I think to not understand that communication is a first draft, it perhaps a bit harsh.

Some people can hear the intention behind the words, and that is quite a lovely skill. But to use that knowledge for lying, well that's mendacity.

Having written that, we live in a time when lying seems to be OK for the President of the United States and his staff. And as per bell hooks, I'm not feeling a lot of love from the executive branch.

Friday, November 03, 2017


In bell hooks' all about love she likes Scott Peck's definition of love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."

She asserts that "love is as love does." One cannot abuse or neglect someone and then say they love them. Well, they can say that, but it's a confusion. Therefore patriarchy, sexism, racism, and savage inequalities are barriers to love. To participate, even unknowingly in these systems of oppression, any oppression is to not love.

In the chapter I just read, she talks about how parents think that abusing a child physically is OK, but that it's no OK for adults to abuse other adults. The family is perhaps open to autocrats and fascists. The idea that blood relations equals love does not equate with the above definition. Blood has nothing to do with it.

I find this book pretty amazing.

On another note:

Please consider donating to a friend who incurred medical expenses not covered in his cancer treatment by his insurance.