Day before Good Friday, and my Christmas tree lights just blew out, so I put the Christmas tree in the closet and bought a replacement.
There’s something about little sparkling white lights that makes me happy. Maybe it’s because I’m a warm weather person and have spent so few winters in the north. So, for me, little white lights makes me think of snowflakes, or something like that. Anyway, I really did just take my christmas tree down.
National Geographic, photo by Robert Clark,June 2008 feature story about “Angkor Wat.”
Strangler fig trees and creeping lichens devour ruins at Ta Prohm, once home to hundreds of monks. To build their magnificent complexes, Angkor’s feudal rulers relied on revenue generated by rice growing.
What is the most fun thing you’ve ever done?
That’s a hard one to answer isn’t it?
Here are some of the things that come to my mind…
Riding my bike through puddles.
Pushing John Carter Scott into the pool, fully clothed.
Hiking up to Look Out Point.
Eating TWO hotdogs at Bob’s.
Going to Colorado when I was 15.
Wandering around (anywhere, really).
That night in Philly, pitch black, in the deserted gardens, listening to the guys jump out and scare the daylights out of each other.
The boardwalk, when I was eight. Actually, the whole package .. going to Wildwood to see all the cousins.
Getting to go to the Beatles concert when I was 16 (but I didn’t know it at the time).
Riding Buttons at dawn in the fall with Cindy and Dad.
Shopping with Mom.
But, the very most fun? The very most? Greece. Trying to find Merlin’s well. Paris was quite an adventure… oh, yes. Vivaldi at Saint-Chapelle. Listening to Robert Bly was terrific… Dad making up stories was great… Pestering my little sisters was a treat… Oh, and Christmas and Halloween…
Staying in bed and lazing about. I love that, too…
and… skiing in powder.
Stick with me, we’ll get to Poppa at the end…
My $64,000 question that day, for which I was looking for two cents from someone of substance: How can a I put my heart into something, yet remain unattached?”
All of this came about because of a bizarre dream I had of my daughter, Brynne, and her family living in a home that actually was as big as a department store.
I had written that day:
“I dreamed that Brynne lived in a huge house. The layout was really weird with three or four huge master suites, and she had just renovated the last one, which had the most scrumptious bathtub set in marble.. the thing is, it looked like a store setting. The room was cavernous.”
Then, I wrote:
“As a matter of fact, I was in some kind of museum (or store) when I came upon her bathroom. I seemed to be shopping — looking for a couple of small end tables…
“Down the center of this “store” was a street where draft horses were pulling the hugest carriages that actually looked like small stores themselves.”
I don’t know why, but I woke up in tears. I had no idea why that dream had caused me to cry. Sitting quietly, thinking on it, I remembered that bathtub with the hump in it so that it could be squished into a very small space, yet allow a person to fit into it — Your bent legs fit very nicely over the hump (this is a symbol for both Nick and I.
Unfortunately, though, we don’t equate it with a brilliant economic engineering solution — which it is, now that I think about it. We think of it as a lack, a place where you can no longer luxuriate — the bathtub half empty, rather than half full, kind of thing). And that brought be back to the few days I spent in Nice after my divorce 20 years ago, and having absolutely nothing material — All Nick and my things fit in a trunk and a big suitcase. Nick, only 4, was terribly affected. He listened to a Bambi tape over and over again…
And another thing came up. I was observing in this dream. That’s all. Watching the parade. And that is something that I had been doing very little of in my real life — working so hard that I was not seeing anything else. All the “little things” were being ignored.
So, that morning, Nick, who has moved out, but shows up for breakfast, showed up. So, it’s
not all that unusual that I asked him for his two cents. He’s really into martial arts right now… . And he said:
“You get your opponents out in front of you, so that you can keep an eye on them, and then you let your intuition take over.”
A little later, following through on these thoughts, I hit the web, which I often use like the Tarot. Ask it a question and see what it comes up with (Weird, I know, but an interesting way of connecting to the great unconscious).
“This not only can be done, it must be done. In Karate, if I am sparring a few students, I must stay centered and present or one of them will score on me — meaning I lost and in a real situation, I would be dazed. That is a very bad situation to be in — dazed while being attacked from multiple directions.
“I must keep my mind on what do I need to do now? What do I need to do now? What do I need to do now? I cannot think of the past split second or the future split second. I must be fully in the present moment. If I slip and think of past or future, I lose what is happening now, that is the very moment one of my students will score on me if I let my mind slip. Instead, I keep calm, centered and relaxed, while having them rush me like maniacs from every direction. Oh the fun I have in Karate!”
“Ask yourself: When have I experienced being totally involved, yet completely detached at work? What was my source of motivation at that time? How can I build on the strength of this experience?
“When our source of motivation comes from our spiritual basis, we naturally experience an equanimity’s detachment, while at the same time being fully dedicated to and acting toward our goals. Here is what we have found happens when we work from this spiritual source of motivation:
“To paraphrase: We engage in our work at our full capacity; We focus on goals that come from a transcendent source; We gain wisdom from the outcome, no matter what it is; We grow spiritually.”
That’s when I fell upon Poppa Neutrino’s web site. Here’s what he said.
“The other thing, there are actually three obstacle courses that you are running, and you have to do it all at the same time. They are spiritual, psychological and physical enhancement.
“(if you get an answer and it fades away, it was only an answer good for one of the three, he said).
“So, run yours, and get off other peoples courses.
“Step two, be proactive. Not reactive or non active. Being proactive, you have to stay unattached.
“Once you start achieving, then there’s a new problem. Now you are struggling with unattachment.
“Some things to make this easier. Reduce your life to the necessities and get rid of the rest. Figure out at any given time whether you are the teacher, student or co-participant. “Try to see yourself accurately in all situations and not be attached to the outcomes.”
Then we have his seven step club: don’t know what that is. But anyway, here are the rules of his club:
1. Be polite
2. Know your three deepest desires. Are you moving toward, away or not moving at all?
3. His last two have to do with sharing and growing the club, so it becomes an enmasse movement (an interesting idea, after all).
And another thing he adds, speed is not the big deal. Steadfastness is.
The Baby’s Opera, by Walter Crane, Illustrated by Walter Crane
I saw three ships come sailing by, Sailing by, sailing by. I saw three ships come sailing by, on New-year’s Day in the morning. And what do you think was in them then, in them then, in them then. And what do you think was in them then, On New-year’s Day in the morning?
Three pretty girls were in them then, in them then, in them then. Three pretty girls were in them then, on New-year’s Day in the morning.
And one could whistle, and one could sing. The other play on the violin; Such joy there was at my wedding, on New-year’s Day in the morning.
On the longest leg of the red eye back from San Francisco to Atlanta, this morning, New Years Day, just before I awoke, I heard three planes go whizzing by in the other direction. Near misses. The first one honked its horn. The third time, people on my plane were anxious and muttering.
I said to the lady next to me. Did I dream three planes flying by? She said, “Guess so. I didn’t see anything like that.”
So, I was thinking. Three ships go sailing by on Christmas morning. And found out that there’s another version from the 19th century. One about three pretty girls going to a wedding…
A little more joyful than the earlier version, which alludes to the ships that brought the relics of the magi to Cologne Cathedral in the 12th century.
The Christmas version, from the 17th century, is a variant of “Greensleeves,” and is thought to be from Debyshire.
When I left the plane, around 6ish, I guess, I asked the pilot and attendants, where were we at midnight, New Years? The stewardess said, which time zone? But the pilot spoke up… right around Salt Lake City, he said. An interesting place to celebrate New Years Eve, asleep, no less… A nonalcoholic, yet unconscious, holiday…
I am not the only one struck by this nursery rhyme. In the work by Josephine Wall, pictured above, “the girls have become angels and the ships’ sails are wings. They are sailing in a sea of dandelions, hence the dandelion seeds, and the sun is a huge dandelion.”
another funny email from martha…
To All My Democrat Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
To All My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
A couple of years ago, an eclipse occurred on my birthday, or should I say that the other way around? Anyway, all my carefully laid plans for the evening went up in smoke. Nothing really changed though. The eclipse went through its cycle just as it was intended. It was my cycle that went through a turn I didn’t expect.
Anyway, while thinking of that, I recall another birthday, my 30th.
That day, I was in charge and the day cycled the way I had planned it. During that time, we had a major drought in the San Francisco Bay area. I don’t remember how long it lasted, but, especailly in Marin County, it was felt. Marin has a reservoir, and unlike other communities, it did not have other water piped in.
So, on that day, we did a rain dance on Mount Tam (and it rained), and we also got off the wheel of life and death — Werner Erhard had brought Karmapa to San Francisco. (that’s not the site of the present two Karmapas, both who do have sites, but rather of the Present 12th Kenting Tai Situpa, who is the main guru of Orgyen Trinlay Dorje, one of the two Karmapas, and whatever you do, don’t skip the intros, they are the best parts! but I’m getting ahead of myself)
Doing some research on all that now, so many years later, was kind of amazing. The 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpel Dorye that I remember, blessed my kids and me that day and we also watched the Black Crown ceremony.
I see, now, that there are two Karmapas – some say that’s ok, a Karmapa should easily be able to be in two places at the same time, but others, are dedicated to their chosen champion, and so even in the higher realms, among the enlightened ones, there are dualities!
But, that there is also trouble in heaven, does not make me feel better for my own sorry existence…
Anyway, seems like the black crown has been put away for a while.
I remember paying such close attention that day, not sure what I was expecting — Karmapa was said to be Buddha — probably a sign, although I can’t remember thinking that. Most likely, I thought getting off the wheel of life and death would make me feel better or different.
Surely, something. Something would happen when I was released from the cycle of life and death.
Anyway, all of my concentration was focused, in a totally attached kind of way.
And the only momentous thing that happened that I can remember, is that the Karmapa made this weird snuffing sound. Like he was clearing his nose big time – mostly something that’s not done in polite social settings.
And that was so unexpected and so sudden that my entire concentration was broken. I remember being startled and jumping out of my skin a bit. I guess that’s a good thing? the sign I was looking for?
Here, child, is your sign. A mucous filled snort to wake you up and send you on your way…
Here’s the meditation that goes with the drawing above.
So now dissolve everything to emptiness. So from emptiness, then your visualization manifests. You visualize your father on one side and your mother on another side. So all sentient beings, friends and enemies, and all sentient being, all mother sentient beings right and left and behind you like ocean of sentient beings, endless, countless. All facing same direction as you. So in front of all of you, beautiful meadow, green, flat, green. In the middle of meadow, beautiful lake filled with most sacred water we call. Something likes ‘Kan Lu’ (nectar). In the middle of that lake, wish fulfilling tree. And huge tree with four branches; one coming this way, one growing that way, one growing that way, one growing behind and one trunk in the middle. You can call it the four branches or you can call it five branches, because the middle one is trunk, you know. And the central trunk, the central branch, is the Guru; all the gurus of the lineage. So top is Buddha Vajradhara. Buddha manifests in the form of Buddha Vajradhara. In the middle is Guru Vajradhara. Your guru manifests in the form of Buddha Vajradhara. In between, all the lineage masters until your guru. So in this lineage guru then Marpa’s Guru is actually Maitripa. Because Marpa had many great masters during his three trips to India and spending twenty-one years in India , out of which sixteen years and seven months with his gurus receiving transmissions. He has many masters. And his main masters are Naropa and Maitripa. From Naropa he received the transmission of the Kagyu, that means the oral transmission which is known as Ka Shi Gyu Pa. The four mainstreams of Ka oral transmission and one of them is named as Maha Mudra. And from Maitripa he received many transmissions but he considered Maitripa particularly his Maha Mudra Ji-Kan-Sun-Shi (Vajra Guru). Okay. So now, but Tilopa and Naropa are also part of the lineage. So they are in the space. Here and there. Tilopa here and Naropa here; not in the Buddha Vajradhara to Guru Vajradhara kind of line, but it is in the space here and there, Tilopa and Naropa. And out of many great masters, one of his master is known as Khadroma Miru Key Gyen Chen that means Dakini who is adorned with ornament of human bones. And she is also his Maha Mudra master. But not in the. Not here. Not in the, you know. Not there. Not under refuge tree. And of course, the Maha Mudra teaching is the teaching of Buddha which is transmitted by great masters like Tilopa, Naropa, Maitripa etc. And the Maitripa’s teaching is known as golden rosary. Now the visualization of the masters all the orders this thangka is the most updated accurate thangka and I think it have sixteenth Gaylwa Karmapa also here. For that way it is most updated and complete thangka. And here the front branch is for the deity. So in this thangka the Khorlo Demchog and Dorje Pagmo, the Vajravarahi and Chakrasamvara in union, is practiced here. And surrounded by field of the our main Yidams. Actually our main Yidam of the lineage is Vajravarahi. The reason is although the Chakrasamvara is the king and Vajravarahi is the queen But Vajravarahi represents the wisdom and Chakrasamvara represents the method; So in our lineage Vajravarahi is which represents the wisdom is main deity because method is for what, method is to acquire wisdom; method is to awaken the primordial wisdom. Essence of all sentient being is primordial wisdom. Enlightenment is the full realization of the primordial wisdom; because of that, Vajravarahi is our main Yidam. Now the tree on the right, the branch on the right, that means the right of the refuge, not right of you. Right of the refuge is over here. Right of you over there. So right of the refuge tree which is facing you that is the Buddha, the Nirmanakaya Buddha. The Buddha, Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya, Svabhavikakaya is right on top on the lineage. But the Nirmanakaya Buddha, the Buddha Sakyamuni, is over there in the center. And who is surrounded by all the Buddha which is represented by Buddha of ten directions. So the branch which is behind, that is the Dharma, so all the teaching of Buddha the text. The Vinaya, Abhidharma Sutra and Tantra and all of the teachings of Buddha is in form of texts on the branch which is behind; grows behind. And in thangka you cannot draw. Therefore just symbolically, right side here and left side here few books shelves, you know, are shown. And we call it text style are shown here and that is just to symbolize; otherwise we don’t know how to draw behind it, you know. Now the left of the refuge tree which is over there, which is your right but left of the refuge tree. On that all the Sangha and holy Sangha on top and ordinary Sangha underneath. But of course holy Sangha, ordinary Sangha the difference is the Bodhisattvas like Avalokitesvara and Manjushri they are considered holy Sangha, And then all the Arhats considered second to them. They are holy Sangha too. Very very holy. So center is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattvas surrounded by other seven Bodhisattvas which are altogether known as eight Bodhisattvas. So three main Arhants are depicted here in the middle Kungawo (Ananda). And then Ananda’s right is Sariputra. And Ananda’s left is Mongalputra. So they represent the eight Bodhisattvas represent all the Bodhisattvas. And these three Arhants represent all the Arhants. So now that is the refuge tree. And now the underneath the branches, below the branches facing toward you are all the Protectors. And two-arm Mahakala is in the middle, and then surrounded by all the other Protectors of the lineage. So two-arm Mahakala is our main protector. And then in the space above, then all the masters of all the lineages. Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana all the great masters. Like clouds. Space filled with them.
Sometimes, I play this game with the universe, where I ask it for a little sign to speed me along my way.
Today, this is what I got back.
Ok, thank you, universe. I’m smiling. This hand signal, with the pointer raised up, could mean, “The lingerie department is on the next floor.” Or it could mean, “For cryinging out loud. Pay attention. This is important!” Or it could mean, “This is a warning! I am not going to repeat this again!”
But that cute teeny monkey, hanging onto that figure for dear life, don’t you just love it? That’s just got to mean something! Monkeys aren’t exactly authority figures, unless they are a whole heck of a lot bigger than this one!
Play my game with the universe with me! Make up a meaning!
All I can say, next time someone tries to tell me what to do, I’m going to think of that cute little baby monkey!