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A Dharma of Silliness

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Mar. 26th, 2005 @ 06:39 pm
Enjoying my newly-acquired Timesplitters 3 - shooting zombies' heads off never gets old! Kind of sad, but I've found much enjoyment in video games - much more than in everyday life, anyway...

Compassion towards a murderer... Mar. 14th, 2005 @ 07:20 pm
I'm sure that all of you know about Brian Nichols' violent actions in the courtroom and his subsequent escape. What I didn't know up until right now is that the hostage that he took, Ashley Smith, did not do what most frightened hostages would have done (cower in fear and hope for the best) - rather, she fed him, read to him from the Bible, and told him about her own tragedy of losing her husband. Obviously struck by kindness from someone he threatened with death, Nichols proclaimed her to be "an angel from heaven." Such compassion for her captor astounds me - I doubt that I would have been able to exhibit such humanity. Cynics would say that this is a short-term episode of Stockholm Syndrome - the identification with the captor by the hostage - but I believe that this comes from Ms. Smith's deep-rooted compassion and non-violence not towards her captor but rather a fellow human being in need. I am deeply touched by her kindness in the face of danger, and only hope that I can exhibit such a refined spirit. Undoubtedly, Ashley Smith's actions during her captivity are the perfect example of everything that I have been working towards! Even though she is a Christian and I am not, obviously compassion is not dictated by religious affiliation alone. I applaud her fine actions and shamefully look back at my poor and inadequate spirit.
Current Mood: content

Mar. 8th, 2005 @ 10:48 pm
I just got my Yerba Mate gourd - it's a hollowed-out gourd (go figure) that Paraguayans (sp?) use to drink their wonderful stimulating tea. It's really cool because instead of drinking from the gourd, they use a hollow metal tube, called a "bombilla," that filters out the tea leaves while leaving the leaves infused in the tea. This allows for mucho consumption (15-20 refills per gourd per go). It's apparently a very society-oriented ritual, and I hope to share it with all of you if the opportunity arises. The Tea Ceremony - not just for Japan and China anymore! On a side note, I find that Yerba Mate is very much superior to coffee (that vulgar drink!) - healthier, and more stimulating than that horrible black sludge. I recommend it over Starbucks any day, as it's much healthier, not to mention better tasting.

Wham! Feb. 18th, 2005 @ 01:18 pm
Something just hit me like a lightning bolt - sometimes wisdom can be found in the most innocuous of sources:

"Row, Row, Row your Boat
Gently down the stream...
Merrily, merrily, merrily merrily
Life is just a Dream."

There's the core of Zen philosophy - in a children's rhyme! I will go think about this further.

Well damn... Dec. 9th, 2004 @ 09:49 am
My parents came up to me yesterday and asked me if I would like to move to India for a year...apparently my father's company has a branch there, and my father decided to perhaps go over there for a year and bring things back up to speed. This would mean that I would be missing a year of college - fine by me - and instead traveling across India (while living in Delhi). I don't know whether this would happen, but I'm up for it...I can't wait to visit all of those interesting places I've heard and read so much about!
Current Mood: hopeful
Other entries
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Kagemusha is coming out on DVD this January...imagine, the last Kurosawa film that I have to see. There's something that I must add to my wish list of very valuable things!

I can't wait.
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It's not even Halloween, and yet I am already feeling some Christmas greed. I am about to give up one of my last remaining vices, computer gaming, and exchange it for another - console gaming. Therefore, it is my express wish to procure an XBox this Christmas. This will allow me to keep my work and my gaming separate thus improving both. Fable. Yum.
» Mid-Monastery Update
Turns out this monastery has DSL, so I am taking advantage of the latter and posting a small update. It is now (I think) a week and a half since I came here...in any case, my muscles have stopped hurting only a few days ago. They certainly drive one here, which is good, but I must say that I have been in these 10 or so days a dishwasher, logger, garbage man, cleaner, laundry man, cook, servant, religious officer, and of course, monk. It seems that this particular Zen lineage does not make distinctions between lay people and monks - a wonderful notion - and I am now being trained as an "officer" of the monastery. This is a typical schedule:

4:30 AM Wake Up
5:00 Chanting and Zazen
7:00 Breakfast
7:30 Work Period
1:00 Lunch
2:30 Work Period
6:00 Chanting and Zazen
8:00 Bedtime

It is of course impossible to describe in words the experience through which I am going - every day I am essentially rebuilding who I am and how I think, as well as discipline myself through hard labor, and of course, zazen. This place is absolutely amazing - deep in the Catskill mountains, it is right next to a large lake. I have already circumnavigated it both by foot and on boat, as well as swam across a few days back. There is only forest around, and there are innumerable animals around us. Deer frolic right next to the monastery door, not caring when we come up to pet them, chipmunks and squirrels run inside the monastery when we chant and meditate. I have already caught one blighter inside the bread box, and, having given him a stern lecture, released the miscreant. There are only four of us here at the moment (there should be more soon) and it is very quiet - eeringly so. Meals are sometimes formal and sometimes informal. For formal meals, we eat silently, in our robes, using our bowls, also known as jihatsu. There is a specific ceremony to unwrapping the bowls, eating with them, washing them, and rewrapping them in the opposite order. We are given 15 minutes to do this, so I am lucky to be the fast eater that I am by nature. Zazen is very strict, and we are not allowed to move at all. Any movement is attributed to mental unrest, and so the keisaku is generously used (long stick). During zazen, everyone takes on an air of perfect seriousness - a great contrast from the work period, during which we talk and laugh. In short, life is very structured here, but also poignant and quite rich in character. I have absolutely no attachment to home at the moment (so far) and so am enjoying myself immensely. My sitting has improved dramatically, and I look forward to moving on to the more "arcane" elements of training.

This place is where one can take of the veil that one creates around oneself in daily life and just BE. All of the people I have met here are excellent individuals and human beings - there are no mental or social reservations here. One does not hesitate to criticize another in public, for the individual's good, of course, and thus everyone trusts everyone to an extreme degree. I do not want to go back home quite yet - this is an experience I wish to prolong indefinitely. School, however, calls, and my days here are sadly numbered. In the meantime I will enjoy what time I have left here and cherish every moment of my time - until I come back, there will probably be no more updates, as I am beginning to enter an extremely introverted stage of self-discipline. I wish you all the best of luck, and look foward to seeing you when I return. Wish you were here (for your own good ;-)
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Well, tomorrow I leave...whatever happens, it will be very influential one way or the other. I hope that all of you have an opportunity to take on a residency at one time or another - it's very useful for people of all walks of life. I will be back in a month - I hope to see all of you then, and let you know exactly what I learned and went through. With any luck, I will come back a better person worthy of your company.
» *bzzz*
Oh sweet God...I won't have hair within the hour...me bald...what an idea...
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