Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Devil's Advocate

This picture is provided by: Derick

Any student of Zen Buddhism knows about the “middle way” path and would not adventure into any extreme positions.
No respectable practitioner would make any of the outrageous statements that are littering my posts.

I have to confess: I am a trouble maker.
I am taking the most extreme paths not because I am ignorant but because I hate ignorance.
I’ve been playing the Devil’s advocate and if any serious challenger to my positions would appear, I would have little chances of defending them.

As I started writing my blog about my spiritual quest, I came to the realization that the best thing about blogging is its great potential for social, human interaction.
I love people and their stories and as much as I love telling stories I also love to hear them.
I decided this blog should be a forum for people and ideas and it looks like my wish is slowly turning into reality.
I have met a group of wonderful people and I can say that all the people you see in this little group are highly intelligent, open minded and tolerant.
Who else would have put up with my shenanigans?

I have met Lydia – one of my oldest friends.
She is the one that have pierced through my disguise and realized that Buddha of Hollywood is just a high wire act not the person behind it.
She has given me her unconditional friendship and I have given her mine.
If you want to meet an extraordinary human being you have to visit her blog.
She is amazing! I just wish I was that good.

I have also met the Clandestine Samurai.
A fierce free spirit with a mind sharp as a katana, that doesn’t mind to speak his mind.
A rare quality that I admire greatly. He is also one of the people with amazing writing talent. Just take a look at his work!
Life: The Dynamic
Literary Memento

Finally I have met Ted Bagley, another student of Zen.
He is the first to give me trouble with my philosophy – so I had to write this post to straighten up some things.
There are no masters only students in this blog.
I am not a leader or looking to be one. I don’t want people to follow me and I am not following anyone.
I am writing this blog as a journal to my spiritual search.
The road is long and treacherous and I would like some friends to come along.
So, anyone who would like to be my companion and friend to this journey is welcome.

This blog is and will remain an open forum for all people their ideas, stories and experiences and hopefully this will be a place for open dialog and spirited debates.
I thank you all my friends for being part of this blog and remember:
“If you meet Buddha along the road, kill him with stones!”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is the end of the world real?

Yes it is. The end of the world is unavoidable.
It is scientifically proven that as soon as the Sun burns out all the hydrogen it will explode into a supernova and the Earth as we know it will be pulverized.
There is no question if the end is real. Everything that has a beginning has an end.
That is not the real question.
The question is not how are we going to die, but rather how are we going to live.

I believe it was Camus who said: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."
Once you have settled that question there is no other thing left to do but live.

So how are we going to live?
Is it unavoidable that corporate greed and political corruption should rule the world while enlightenment and decency should suffer and wither?
Well, it is all up to you.
Yes you have the power to determine the future of this country, the future of this planet.

The so called powers of this world are actually powerless without you.
You are the ones that plant the crops and put the food on the tables.
You are the ones that build the houses and the roads.
You are the ones that build the guns and that fight the wars.
Without you the rich and powerful would die of starvation.

Yeah, that is nice BS you might say, so let me ask you:
Would the banks and the lenders have succeeded in raping the Americans house market, if millions of people would have not bought into the financial scam of the sub prime lending?
You see nobody has put a gun to anybody’s head to buy a house that they could not afford, or to get a second mortgage they did not need.
Who is putting the corrupt politicians in power year after year, after year?
You do. And you know what they say: “You fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice shame on me”
Who is fighting the wars? I don’t think the rich and powerful are spilling their blood for the protection of democracy and cheap oil. Do you?

So you see it takes two to tango.
Evil needs ignorance and ignorant people in order to succeed; because frankly, evil is very weak and cowardly, and unless it finds the suckers to do its deeds it is pretty much helpless.
Something to think about when you feel helpless, used and abused.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Enlightenment 106

We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the very nasty Wolf but do you know the story of the evil bunnies?

Once upon a time in a little Australian town, a family of pet bunnies escaped from the home where they were supposed to be living.
Once in the wilderness, without having to worry about any natural predators – because there were none – our bunnies started to do what bunnies do best: Math!
So they multiplied day in and day out till they got to a couple of million.
Of course all that math gives you an appetite, so they ate everything in their path forcing the Australian government to declare a state of emergency.

On the other news, the policy of unrestricted killing of the bad wolves of North America had to be reversed and the wolf had to be declared protected species due to the wild spread of disease among the herbivores of the forests and other unexpected and unforeseen problems the absence of wolves had caused.

Although my reporting skills might be dubious the facts remain the same.
Every time men have interfered with Mother Nature thinking, this is bad and we can make it better, the consequences have been disastrous or at least unexpectedly bad.
Even after the repeated failures of controlling our environment we keep to have the same ignorant understanding and approach to the universe of which we are part of.

First, we do not even consider ourselves part of the nature.
We are the masters of the universe – see the bible decree that puts us in charge of everything.
Consequently we are on the path of “conquering” the nature around us and ones nature as well.
Nature has to be subdued and controlled be that the wild life, animals and forests, rivers, lakes and oceans, or our own instincts, sexuality or emotions.

A truly civilized man has to be completely removed from nature and his nature.
He has to live in an artificial house in an artificial city with an artificial environment.
The air has to be conditioned, the water purified the night has to be turned into day for his convenience and generally everything that is “natural” like the flowers he brings around for his enjoyment, has to be disinfected and sterilized so to protect him from harm.

He has to be “reasonable” therefore anything emotional is regarded as weak and unbecoming. He has to be practical, efficient, organized and anything that stands in the path of achieving this “civilized” human state has to be removed, or at least chained and controlled.
The human nature had to be subdued and hidden like an ugly animal, and then and only then we can consider ourselves superior, enlightened human beings.

If you think to yourself “What a piece of crap, nobody thinks like that.”
I have some bad news. That is exactly what the majority of people think.
We are turning this planet into an asphalted parking lot as we are speaking.
Every moment of every day we are on an assault, war path against the nature around us and in the next couple of decades the only place we would see wild life would be in national parks.

Every day as we are speaking the same scientific minds are working to turn your brain into an asphalted parking lot as well.
You might have not been aware of it but the “civilization” of the human nature has been going on for quite a while be that by religious and political means, through education, indoctrination, through control or chemical control – just look around you, how many of the people you know are under mood controlled medication or notice how fast mental illnesses are popping up every year.
It looks like any inconvenient behavior now days has a scientific name and a pill to cure it.

The human society is changing and moving every day towards is destination.
The day of the perfect society that our scientific minds are dreaming will become reality before you know it.

You may not agree with that statement and I am ready to admit that I am wrong, but if I am wrong then, you tell me:
Do you have any idea where the human society is heading for?
Just as I thought, you have no idea.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Buddha on "Sex"

1) “It's better to be black than gay because when you're black you don't have to tell your mother.”
Charles Pierce.

2) Did you know Hugh Hefner is buysexual?
He buys all the sex he gets!

3) “I'm glad I'm not bisexual. I couldn't stand being rejected by men as well as women.”
Bernard Manning.

4) “The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money costs a lot less.”
Brenda Francis

5) There is a general misconception that men pay prostitutes for sex.
Actually they pay so they would go away after sex.

6) “Don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone I love”
Woody Allen

7) The faster the result, the more enjoyable the activity.
That would explain why I like sex so much!

8) “I'm such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own.”
Woody Allen

9) Translation
When a man tells you:
“I don’t want you for your body; I want you for your brain.”
It means:
“I’m so horny I could f##k a farm animal if I could get my hands on it.”
When a woman tells you:
“Size doesn’t matter.”
It means:
“I have seen small dicks before but this is ridiculous.”

10) “I believe that sex is a beautiful thing between two people.
Between five, it's fantastic.”
Woody Allen

11) Difference
Women can’t have sex and not to think at the same time.
Men can’t have sex and think at the same time.

12) “Don't have sex man.
It leads to kissing and pretty soon you have to start talking to them.”
Steve Martin.

13) Men’s ultimate science fiction fantasy:
Earth is infested by a mysterious virus and all the men on the planet die, except
Women’s ultimate science fiction fantasy:
Earth is infested by a mysterious virus and all the men on the planet die, except

14) “Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”
RD Laing.

As you can see I have numbered all the jokes so we can take a survey.
Which number is your favorite?
Sorry 69 is not an option!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Enlightenment 105

If everybody is in love with love, it is easy to understand.
There is no other feeling more exhilarating and fulfilling as feeling in love.
On the other hand hate never feels good – even when it feels good – Hence everybody hates hate and nobody seem to notice the good things about hate.

When everybody is feeling OK, nobody seems too prone to act, change and improve.
We don’t even act when things start to get worse, but when we really start hating our condition – like a bad job situation or a bad relationship – then we start acting.
Hate is a good catalyst. If it wasn’t for hate I wouldn’t have become a Buddhist.
See: Happy birthday baby Jesus

When we say we love peace don’t we also mean we hate war?
When we say we love the truth don’t we also mean we hate the lies?
When we say we love God don’t we also mean we hate Satan?
When ever we say we love something don’t we also hate the opposite?

Actually hate is neither good nor bad.
What we have to understand is that hate, as well as love and all the other human emotions, feelings, ideas and thoughts have no moral value, no quality good or bad, but they become good or bad as the result of our action.
If our actions are enlightened, they are good. If our actions are ignorant, they are bad.

There is nothing more despicable, more dreadful as the ignorant hate.
Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and homophobia, just to name a few of the forms that ignorant hate takes.

All human prejudice is based on the same principle of ignorant generalization and more recent on the pseudo scientific fallacy we call statistics.
How many times have you heard the “data” on the percentage of black man in our jails, or the percentage of black men unemployed, or the percentage of black men this and black men that. It reminds me of a joke I heard.

A scientist takes a cricket and rings a bell. The cricket jumps.
The scientist breaks one of the cricket legs then rings the bell. The cricket jumps.
The scientist breaks another of the cricket legs then rings the bell. The cricket jumps.
He continues his experiment until the last leg is broken. He rings the bell and the cricket doesn’t move.
The scientist concludes: Crickets without legs can’t hear.

Why are we doing these statistics? Is there a connection between a person’s skin color, gender, race, sexual or religion preference and his capacity as a human being?
Well, these so called statistics and scientific measurements seem to point to that conclusion, don’t they?
Of course by making a test of climbing trees I can prove scientifically that 90% of the monkeys are superior to humans as well.

Why does the government keep asking on their paper work about your race?
Why not ask if you are left handed, right handed or ambidextrous?
Why not ask if you are tall or short, fat or thin.
Does race makes any difference?
And why in the name of God black people keep on calling themselves “African Americans”?
That is one of the most ignorant thing I ever heard. Africans are not all black and African culture is not all black either.
What is a born Egyptian living in US is supposed to be called?
Why gay people call themselves gay?
Why would anybody call themselves anything else than a human being?

It is ignorance.
It is the believe in I vs. you, in us vs. they.
There is no they.
And until every person on this Earth understands that, prejudice and intolerance will continue to exist and flourish.
There is no they.
And until every person on this Earth calls himself, no more, no less than a human being, ignorant hatred will persist.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Enlightenment 104

This picture is provided by: Derick

The poets and musicians have sung you.
Philosophers and psychologists have spent years studying your mystery.
Brave man have fought wars and lost their life for you.
Nothing, with maybe the exception of reason, defines us as human beings as love.
Nothing in the world we desire and search for more than love.
Even money, power and fame deep down are nothing but disguised ways we search for love and attention.

What else is more profound, powerful and magical?
What else is more noble, pure and sublime?
What else is more dysfunctional and ignorant?
What? You never heard of ignorant love?

There once was a very successful businessman that had a beautiful wife.
He lavished her with expensive things, jewelries and clothes.
She drove the most expensive luxury car and lived in the most beautiful mansion.
One day while they were out in town one young sales person – gay as could be if you ask me – complemented her on her elegance and beauty.
Her husband started the most embarrassing fight, accusing her of flirting with the young man. I found later the reason and I said to him “You should be proud you have such a beautiful wife” He said that she’s an ingrate tramp that tortures him with her constant flirting and that she has provoked the young man on purpose.
Later on, I found out that this man would not allow his wife to go to college or to get a job because was too afraid she would cheat on him.
The funny part is that years latter she caught him with another woman.

I call this story the “golden cage of love” or the ignorant love we call jealousy.
OK. There are some people out there that will argue that jealousy is not love.
That love is pure and unconditional and that there is not such a thing as ignorant love.

Let’s put a little crack in the colored glasses we see love with.
“IF” is the mark of the Devil.
“IF” like in “If you love me you would do … for me” or “If you love me you would give or buy me …” or “If you love me you wouldn’t ask me to…”
Let’s look through this little crack of “IF” next time when you talk to your relatives, family, friends, lover or spouse.
Pay attention to your pastor on how many times he tells you “If you love God…” or to the politicians on how many times tell you “If you love your country…”
“IF” is the mark of the Devil or if you are a non believer, the mark of ignore-ant love.
See how many times love comes to you with this mark and most important see how often you mark your love with it.

Sadly enough unconditional love is more rare than the air on the moon.
I can count few instances of total, absolute unconditional love: Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Theresa and maybe a few more.
Even my mother loved me with that ignore-ant love. No woman I ever dated or married was ever good enough for her boy.
Even I, find myself pulling a fast “IF” with my children – it is so easy and so tempting.
Is it that my mother did not love me or that I don’t love my children?
I love my children more that life itself and that is exactly why ignorant love is so insidious, so dangerous.

Look at your life, at your past and present experiences.
How many times have you been hurt by an enemy or a stranger and how many times have you been hurt by the very people that were supposed to love you?
How many times have you hurt an enemy or stranger and how many times have you hurt the person you have loved the most?

We hurt the people we love because our ignorance not because we don’t love them enough.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Enlightenment 103

The basic principle of going from point “A” to point “B” is to know what and where point “A” and “B” are.

We usually don’t have a problem locating the point “B”.
We all want a better life; we all aim for a better point “B” whatever that might be: love, power, fame, enlightenment, etc. but very few of us know and understand where we are standing, or what our point “A” is.

That is the reason why so many of us are stuck in bad lives, bad careers, alcohol and drug addictions, depression and low self esteem, dysfunctional and / or abusive relationships and all kind of self destructive behavior.
Recognizing the problem is half of solving it.

Now, there are as many “A” points as there are people and it would be impossible to give a general advice, a magic bullet that would identify all and every problem possible but for our specific quest here is where we stand:
We are looking for enlightenment, which is our goal or point “B”
We are all ignorant, that is were we stand, which is our point “A”

I know it is very hard and many of you will reject this statements – I know I did it too.
Nobody wants to admit their ignorance but give me a chance to explain:

What ignorance is or better I should spell it ignore-ance, it is not a lack of knowledge or education, is not stupidity or lack of mental ability.
Ignore-ance is that inability to see a problem from our opponent’s point of view, it is that belief that we are right and they are wrong.
Ignore-ance is the belief in the illusion of our own thinking without questioning or doubting.
Ignore-ance is believing that we are doing everything right in our life despite the fact that our life, the result of our so called “right” thinking, is less than perfect, less than that what we have envisioned.
Ignore-ance is the colored glasses that we all wear and distort our view of reality.
Ignore-ance is the opposite side of enlightenment and if you don’t see it is quite OK. Nobody can really see the glasses on their nose!

500 years ago or so, people believed that the earth was flat.
They were ignorant of the many signs that pointed the other way until the day somebody went around the world and proved that the earth was round.
Now days everybody believe that the earth is round – well almost everybody.
We are all ignorant of all the many signs that point the other way.
I just came back from skiing in Utah and believe me the earth is not round.
The earth has mountains and valleys and a lot of canyons and volcanoes and deserts, you know the works.
The truth is that the earth has a unique shape and no other planet in the universe is exactly like it. The earth is shaped like the earth. It is that it is.

Being ignorant is believing that the earth is flat or round.
Being enlightened is to know that flat and round are just two different points of view.
Being enlightened doesn’t mean knowing more but knowing that what you know is just a point of view.
Being enlightened is to know that you are wearing the colored glasses of your ignorance and being able to take them off and see beyond the illusion.

Are you ready to take off your glasses and take a peak beyond the illusion?
Then stick around, there is more to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Enlightenment 102

This picture is provided by: Derick

The problem with Eastern philosophies and religions is that while they have been translated and interpreted many times, they have rarely being understood and assimilated.
See: Lost in translation Part II
While we have lots of scholars and students of Eastern mysticism, we have but very few buddhas.
We too often forget that “buddha”is first and foremost an adjective, a title not a noun, or person.
We should properly say Gautama the Buddha not Gautama Buddha, since he was “a Buddha” not “the Buddha”.

What Gautama Buddha envisioned in his moment of enlightenment was a recipe not a dogma.
Gautama did not aim to be a scholar, a philosopher or a writer.
His quest and great achievement was his own enlightenment.
His teachings and philosophy are only incidental not central to his achievement.
Buddhism is not a dogma; it is neither a philosophy nor a religion.
Buddhism is a practical approach to enlightenment.

It makes no sense to study piano or crocheting if you want to become a cook, does it?
There is no point in studying Buddhism if you don’t understand what the point of Buddhism is.
Buddhism is the path to enlightenment.
The whole purpose of embracing its teachings is to attain satori, nirvana, awakening, enlightenment.

The student of Buddhism doesn’t have anything to learn and the Zen master has nothing to teach.

The Zen master throws the student into the waters of metaphysics not to study the water and discover its secrets but in the hope the student will forget about the water and start swimming.
Every time the student floats up to the surface thinking “I got it!” the master pushes him back under the water., where the student struggles again to breath and urgently seeks the surface, just to be met by the same adamant master and be pushed back into the depths of his despair.
This game goes on and on, until one day the student realizes that there is no secret, that the teacher has nothing to teach and he has nothing to learn.
And then his struggle is over and he “rows, rows, rows his boat, happily down the stream…”

Let me put it this way, since we are mostly westerners here:
Life is like driving a car. The problem of life is that we get scared and we step on the brakes but we have to keep up with the traffic at the same time, so we are forced to step on the gas.
This creates the stress of life that we all feel. The “suffering” everybody is talking about is because we are running our car with both feet on the brakes and the gas at the same time.
Buddhism doesn’t teach you anything, doesn’t give you anything you already don’t have. Buddhism simply teaches us:
“Take your foot off the brakes! Have faith. Everything is going to be OK!”
Here is another parable you may find interesting: Row, row, row your boat…

So, are you ready for a swim?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enlightenment 101

This picture is provided by: Derick

There is a fundamental difference between the way teaching and learning is done in the Eastern cultures and the way we do it in the West.
The Eastern approach to education is very practical, very hands on, while the Western approach is very theoretical, very academic.
Our students learn about things, while in the East the students learn things.
To make a parable, our school system teaches our kids how to swim by using scientific data and visual aids, while the Eastern school system teaches their kids by throwing them in the water.
What we end up with, is a lot of college graduates that know a lot about, medicine or engineering but don’t know medicine or engineering.

Another thing about how we learn things in the West is that we dissect them, take them apart, in order to study and understand how they work. We start with the simple concepts and mechanisms and work our way up to the full system, to the whole, while the Eastern approach is totally the opposite: They start from the general understanding on how the whole works and make their way down to the components or the simple concepts.

This has created rather very specialized fields of knowledge in the Western culture.
We, to give you an example, have a doctor for almost every part or organ of the human body, but these specialist have very little or no knowledge of how the whole organism works together.
The Eastern medicine incorporates things like music, movement and color, nutrition and breathing, meditation and medication.
For the most part the Western approach to medicine is pretty much medication, although lately more and more things like nutrition, dieting and exercising have inched their way into the way we approach health.

I am making this foray in the way teaching is done in the East in order to make you understand the paradoxical nature of teaching and learning Buddhism in the Western culture.
We approach Buddhism with the wrong mind set, the wrong techniques and the wrong expectations.
We learn how to swim or better said, about how to swim in a purely theoretical way and when we are thrown in the river of life we sink and we don’t understand why.
So normally we assume that we don’t know enough or that we have not discovered the “secret” yet, so we go back and do some more studying. Like that would make any difference!

So if you are interested in a course in enlightenment or have studied Eastern philosophy and religion and “sunk”, stick around for an informal dive into the mysteries of Zen Buddhism.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vacation is over!

I love vacations:
I love the anticipation, the preparations, the adventure, the discovery, the people and places, the laughter and joy, the memories that last a life time.
The only thing I don’t like about vacations is the time warp.
Why do they have to be so damn short?
Why when you have fun, time seems to fly and when you are in one of life embarrassing or painful episodes, time seems to slow to a stop?
Good question!

Like it or not, between the maternity ward and the crematorium – I find the burial process rather creepy – we have but a brief moment of time to experience joy, love and happiness, and even before we realize this impermanence of life, the experience is over.

Life is a journey and what makes this journey worth the effort are the little moments of happiness we manage to steal from the mundane and ordinary struggle for survival, our little vacations from life.
The picnics in the park, the bicycle rides, the weekend excursions.
Taking the kids to a movie, a museum, a concert or an amusement park.
Going trick or treating on Halloween, buying a Christmas tree and decorating it. Opening presents on Christmas Eve.
Having a Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends or watching the 4th of July fire works.
These and many more are the little “roses” on the side of life’s road, that make the journey worth while.
We should stop and smell the roses more often. I know I will. It is part of my New Year resolution.
See: Are you enlightened?

I love vacations.
They recharge my batteries and give me energy and purpose.
They enrich my life, my mind and soul, and coming back home they make me appreciate more what I have. Vacations give me a new perspective on life.
How would you experience what you have if you would never let it go?
So my advice to you:
Don’t ever pass an opportunity to take a vacation.
Don’t ever pass an opportunity to smell the roses.

Be loved!