Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green Cars

Well, since I'm clearly not going to have an epiphany and start communicating regularly with the world outside of Perth, I might as well write random things on my blog.

People in Perth drive green cars. Lots of bright green cars, in shades range from green apple green to spring green. D. noticed that these colours don't exist in the United States in cars. A. says that they only exist in the USA in Pimp My Ride. I cannot remember if people in Sydney drive green cars in excessive (by USA) standards. I lived there in 1997, so maybe buying habits of changed, or maybe I just don't remember. Hence this blog entry.

Tune in for more random thoughts.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mount Meru

I went to a good teaching tonight by Khenpo Tsering Samdup at the Chicago Bodhi Path Center. Oooo I love living in a city with multiple means of education....

Anyway, tonight's discussion was on Karma, as based on Gampopa's book The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. There was also a brief discussion of Tibetan Buddhist Cosmology, which finally made some sense (to me). In that cosmology, there is a central mountain, Meru, surrounded by an ocean in which appear four continents. We currently live on the southern continent.

Hang with me here.... We also talked about collective karma, and how the karma of a group of people "makes" their collective situation. For example, the karma of the group of people born into the USA makes good ol' America what it is. Extrapolating, with my lightning-fast logic, I realized that the collective karma of all people (and other sentient beings here) generated the Earth. And similarly the Universe, and similarly all the way back to the Big Bang.

So I asked Khenpo how that worked, as back at the Big Bang there were obviously no humans or animals around in this Universe to exert any karmic influence. I suspected that we were all hanging around in the other three continents. Hah! I was right.

And people think that Intelligent Design is hard to figure out.

Personally, I want to think about dark matter and dark energy, which some people equate with the old-fashioned ether (can't see it, can't measure it, but it must be there!). What if it's all caused by the other three continents, too? Or what if it's caused by the God realms? there are even more of those confusing possibilities. Buddha said that people are accustomed to think in terms of "exists," and "doesn't exist." As long as we remain entangled in these two views we will not attain liberation. Nor get enough sleep.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

But what are these for?

I have some profound and Buddhist thoughts on my weekend, but they will have to wait until later. I have been reading Ser's blog, which is way more beautifully written than I could ever even imagine doing myself. Nonetheless, I am now inspired to write down stories about my favorite fellow Drew for remembrance's sake 'cause I can barely remember my phone number.

Drew is getting changed into his pyjamas last Thursday. He points to his nether regions and says: "Mom, what are the balls for?" I say, in my best instructional voice "They're your testicles. They're called balls because they look just like balls rolling around in there." (And they do. I never noticed this in men.) Reply "But no, what are they FOR?" Wild thoughts of birds-and-bees lectures flash into my head. I try to be straightforward and tell him that's where men make half of babies. You know, blah blah, only women can grow the babies inside them, and only men contribute to babies from their balls. I am really hoping that I don't have to go any further into the details at this point. He replies, in his six year old sagacity: "Oh, so that's where I keep my DNA!" End of discussion.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Impermanence strikes early

So I was going to write next week about the second motivating thought -- impermanence. But it has already struck, in that my gloating about being healthy a few days ago has bit me in the butt. My back hurts [for the technically minded: L4-L5], my knee hurts [peeling meniscus], and my shoulder hurts [Type 4 SLAP which didn't quite get repaired]. Have just ordered some fantastic new supplement which is supposed to replace the synovial fluid in my joints. And I went to the acupuncturist as my first "emergency" visit (we have previously been working on my allergies). Throw money at the problem, that's it! Seriously, my shoulder does feel considerably better after voodoo.

Ah well, guess I'd better slow down.

Yesterday did no prostrations. Today no prostrations.

Yesterday I did go for a lovely lovely walk at lunchtime with a friend from work. Several ladies from my department are walking around the newly reconstructed track each day at work. So nice I got sunburned in my two miles. And plenty of other walking to work/school/park/choir/library. Should have done that the previous day, d'oh.

Today I went to the pool with Joy and kicked for 20 minutes, about 700 yards. A good idea except it made my knee hurt by trying to whack into butterfly kick. I clearly will have to get back into the swing of kicking workouts. Once upon a time, in a country far far away, before the first shoulder surgery, the only exercise I could do was kick in a pool. Prior to that I had muscled my way through swimming laps, and was a hopeless kicker. After tearing off my transverse humeral ligament [for the technically minded again], I got really good at kicking so much that I had to go in the "medium speed" lane. People get really irritated when they're passed by somebody solely kicking. Think how peeved they'll be if they get passed by a FAT old lady kicking. Motivation for all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The first basic thought: The precious human body

Tibetan Buddhists rely upon the "Four Basic Thoughts Which Turn Mind Towards Liberation." The idea is that these little nuggets of wisdom will open your mind to the necessity of steady Buddhist practice. Either that, or they'll scare the wee out of you and send you running to Buddhism like a terrified Protestant. Some versions of the thoughts dwell heavily on death. Other commentaries are a bit less dreary. However, my friend Natasha S. once pointed out that you can use these thoughts as a crucible to help you decide just about anything -- sort of a Buddhist "What Would Jesus Do?"

So today's motivating speech for exercise is about the first basic thought, usually translated "The Precious Human Body." Buddhists consider that humans, as opposed to the other five types of sentient beings (animals, ghosts, gods, etc.), have the optimal amount of suffering in their lives to motivate them to discover the nature of reality. I love that concept -- that you can have just the right amount of suffering! Gods, for example, are so damn happy that they never get off their butts and do anything useful. Animals and other lower beings are too distracted by needing to eat, or are so tortured that they can't think straight. So I think of suffering as a motivator in Buddhism or exercise. Or in common parlance "No pain, no gain."

The human body is considered "Precious" when you have the opportunity to practice, or by analogy, work out. Some of these blessings are inherent to you, and others are given to you by other people. For example, I get to work out when my husband takes care of my son. Without that help, I'd have a very difficult time -- I think of my friend Marty as a single mom who is nearly doomed to inactivity while her kids are young.

I am also very aware that I have a precious opportunity now in that my body is in a reasonable state of stasis. In 20 years it will be impossible to start exercising (although I saw a spiffy 65 year old lady striding down the street today in her matching tracksuit -- who knew they still make those?). In the past 25 years, for some periods I have been quite unable to exercise. I count a pregnancy, two shoulder operations, two knee operations, one foot operation, debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome, and a herniated disk as my personal orthopedic history. At the moment my biggest struggle is with hypothyroidism; fortunately at the moment I'm overdosed and don't need as much sleep. I also am thankful for Kenji Aoki, my newfound acupuncture miracle worker. So even my current tenuous condition requires gratitude towards medical workers across three continents.

In short, I have meditated on my precious human life with its freedoms and opportunities. Because it is difficult to obtain and is easily lost, I will use it in a meaningful way.

Today I did a full round of prostrations, plus some. Then I wore my high-tech Masai Balance shoes back and forth from work. Then I walked to the produce market and bought a ridiculously large amount of heavy food. My thighs ache from a steady week of prostrations. My left Achilles tendon is sore from rocking around in my spiffy sneakers. But my shoulders are strong from whole wheat flour. That's enough exercise for today.