Cozy

“Most people feel cozy enough in samsara. They do not really have the genuine aspiration to go beyond samsara; they just want samsara to be a little bit better. It is quite interesting that “samsara” became the name of a perfume. And it is like that. It seduces us into thinking that it is okay: samsara is not so bad; it smells nice! The underlying motivation to go beyond samsara is very rare, even for people who go to Dharma centers. There are many people who learn to meditate and so forth, but with the underlying motive that they hope to make themselves feel better. And if it ends up making them feel worse, instead of realizing that this may be a good sign, they think there is something wrong with Dharma. We are always looking to make ourselves comfortable in the prison house. We might think that if we get the cell wall painted a pretty shade of pale green, and put in a few pictures, it won’t be a prison any more.” ~Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

“I ask you though, Harold, is it enough?”  ~Maude

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Shhh…

One time a relative stopped by the house– I’ll call her “Kathy,” because that was her name– complaining that her life was seriously out of balance and she didn’t know what to do.

I suggested she sit quietly.

She immediately burst out into loud, sustained cackles, because the very idea of sitting quietly was so patently absurd to her.

We live in a world that never gives us a quiet moment. Cell phones, radios, television and movies, angry talk shows, gaudy billboards; they all seem to be conspiring to keep us distracted and occupied.

The pursuit of happiness is making us all miserable.

In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, by the way, it was worded “the pursuit of property.” Americans have been brainwashed to believe those are the same things.

They aren’t.

Kathy continues to be miserable, drama and chaos surrounding her like the winds of a hurricane.

And I still believe if she would just sit still, she could change her life.

And I believe that if enough of us just sat still, we could start a revolution.

We could heal this planet.

:-)

“When we smile, the muscles around our mouth are stretched and relaxed, just like doing yoga. Smiling is mouth yoga. We release the tension from our face as we smile. Others who run into us notice it, even strangers, and are likely to smile back. It is a wonderful chain reaction that we can initiate, touching the joy in anyone we encounter. Smiling is an ambassador of goodwill.”

~This quote has been attributed to Thich Nhat Hanh, but I’ve been unable to find an original source.  The sentiment sounds like him, the phrasing does not.  Regardless of who said it, though, it’s a nice thought.

Threes

My three favorite actors:

  1. Bruce Dern
  2. Donald Sutherland
  3. John Lithgow

My three favorite actresses:

  1. Laurie Metcalf
  2. Octavia Spencer
  3. Alexis Bledel

I enjoy watching actors like Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson build to a big explosive payoff, but I’m more impressed with the actors who can play the quiet scenes.

The most difficult thing for an actor to play convincingly seems to be joy. It’s not hard to make people feel sad, and making people angry is literally as easy as raising a finger, but the actors who can lift your spirits and bring a smile to your face are the ones who really have something special.

I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but that’s okay.

“About yesterday, no tears. About tomorrow, no fears.” ~Byrl Rather’s advice to her son, Dan

Personally, I am the Master of Distraction. I have no tears or fears because I mentally change the channel whenever a memory or premonition pops into my head.

I grew up in an era when we were advised to work through things, deal with things, confront things; I can’t do that. I don’t know what the process is, I don’t know what the goal would be.

I do sometimes wonder if my way is the healthiest way. We were always told that avoiding our feelings is a Bad Thing. But truthfully, this works for me, and seems to be working well.

I suppose it’s that old hippie mantra, “Live for today,” or those old Buddhist teachings about living in the present moment.

I don’t know if Mrs. Rather would approve or not.

I’m off now to cultivate my garden.

Pierced

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~1 Timothy 6:10

I don’t think this means money in the literal sense of coins and paper, I think it’s meant to mean self-centeredness and selfishness in general. When you look at the actions considered “sinful,” you always find selfishness at the center. Adultery, stealing, dishonesty, false idols; all of those things happen when a person puts their own pleasure above all else.

And the seldom-quoted second half is, to me, the more significant part: “pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” While those things might bring a temporary distraction, they don’t offer lasting happiness.  Karma might hit them dramatically with a divorce or a prison sentence, it might lock  them into a cycle or repeated peaks and valleys from which they cannot escape, or it might just be the crushing realization, late at night, that their lives are hollow and unbalanced.

I don’t know of any selfish people who are happy. There certainly aren’t any who are kind. And ultimately, as they spend their lives forever chasing their next high, they become completely insignificant.

There are always consequences.