Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

A late entry in the truth category

December 9th, 2009    -    2 Comments


When you’re as easily teased by Buddhist discourse as I am, you can see the same arguments over and over. Among the refrains I keep hearing are the ones I call The Biggest Lies in Buddhism.

I’m not a Buddha. You most certainly are; you may not yet realize it. “Buddha” does not equate to an imaginary celestial being but to an awakened one. When human beings live in their natural awakened state, undisturbed by delusive thoughts and emotions, they live as buddhas. Buddhahood is your birthright. You claim it every time you wake up to the present moment.

My ideas are as good as yours. That’s true, however, neither are any good at all. The practice of Buddhism is not intended to democratize personal views; it does not aim to equalize the worth of everyone’s self-reinforcing preferences; it simply transcends them. We practice Buddhism so we will no longer be blinded by what we think, and wake up instead to how things are.

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What I know to be untrue

October 19th, 2009    -    30 Comments

You’ll hear from me first thing Monday.

We’re in your neighborhood working and we’d like to give you a free estimate.
It’s all your fault.
No child will be left behind.
Drinking in moderation is good for you.
The kids are asleep.
It’s educational.
When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Only this once, I promise.
I’ll eat the leftovers.
I can’t live without you.
You forced my hand.
I understand.
I can’t take it a minute longer.
Guaranteed to keep the weight off.
I had no choice.
The world will never be the same.
Regulation destroys innovation.
We’re fighting for their freedom.
That’s why Canadians come here.
We will never sell your email address.
Limited time only.
We know you have a choice of carriers, and we thank you for choosing to fly with us.
I never go on Facebook.

Oh! And another one: I’m finished.

What about you? What do you know to be untrue?

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Remove, retread, repeat

May 13th, 2009    -    11 Comments


The other day I had to have a ginormous bolt removed from a tire and the hole plugged. It reminded me that retreads can have a lot of miles left on them, and so I plugged in this repeat post today:

From time to time I’m asked this question: What do Buddhists believe? I like to respond that Buddhism requires no beliefs, but that’s rather hard to believe. And so I offer this.

I believe in love. Not the love that is the enemy of hate, but the love that has no enemies or rivals, no end and no beginning, no justification and no reason at all. Love and hate are completely unrelated and incomparable. Hate is born of human fear. Love is never born, which is to say, it is eternal and absolutely fearless. This love does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in truth. Not the truth that is investigated or exposed, interpreted or debated. But the truth that is revealed, inevitably and without a doubt, right in front of my eyes. All truth is self-revealed; it just doesn’t always appear as quickly or emphatically as I’d like it to. This truth does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in freedom. Not the freedom that is confined or decreed by ideology, but the freedom that is free of all confining impositions, definitions, expectations and doctrines. Not the freedom in whose name we tremble and fight, but the freedom that needs no defense. This freedom does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in justice. Not the justice that is deliberated or prosecuted; not that is weighed or measured or meted by my own corruptible self-interest. I believe in the unfailing precision of cause and effect, the universal and inviolable law of interdependence. It shows itself to me in my own suffering every single time I act with a savage hand, a greedy mind or a selfish thought. It shows itself in the state of the world, and the state of the mind, we each inhabit. This justice does not require my belief; it requires my practice.

I believe in peace. Not the peace that is a prize. Not the peace that can be won. There is no peace in victory; there is only lasting resentment, recrimination and pain. The peace I seek is the peace that surpasses all understanding. It is the peace that is always at hand when I empty my hand. No matter what you believe, this peace does not require belief, it requires practice.

I believe in wisdom. Not the wisdom that is imparted or achieved; not the wisdom sought or the wisdom gained. But the wisdom that we each already own as our birthright. The wisdom that manifests in our own clear minds and selfless hearts, and that we embody as love, truth, freedom, justice and peace. The wisdom that is practice.

What do you believe?

The secret life of men

February 19th, 2009    -    11 Comments


I don’t have anything to wear.
Does this make me look fat?
You hurt my feelings.
I hate my hair.
Does my breath smell?
Does waxing hurt?
My boss doesn’t like me.
I’m beginning to look like my dad.
It’s my natural color.
I borrowed your moisturizer.

The secret life of men is the secret life of us all. So there are no secrets.
Now, can you keep it a secret?

Your girlfriend is a priest

February 11th, 2009    -    19 Comments


As much as it shocks me to realize it, sometimes as I cup my hand consolingly under someone’s elbow, I hear myself say, “I’m a priest.” And then I tell them something or other that they probably already know.

So here are some priestly items for now:

1. Never ask your husband if he remembered to feed the dog. He doesn’t like to be reminded that he always forgets to feed the dog. Just feed the dog no matter what.

2. Never ask your husband to pick up the dog poop, since you yourself are most likely responsible for it in the end analysis (See point 1). And face it, your husband doesn’t like to be reminded of that either.

3. Never buy underwear in the 75 percent off, free shipping, extra 20 percent off one-day-only sale at Victoria’s Secret online because underwear that costs .17 cents a pair looks like it costs even less. Just wear the old underwear for the sake of the economic crisis.

4. Plus, this saves you the embarrassment of having to go up to a larger size when you buy new underwear because of the unconscionable fact that they only come in three sizes. Well four, but on my mother’s side of the family we don’t consider S a size for adults.

5. Then you can tell yourself that you are still the same size as Jessica Simpson will soon be.

6. Never compare yourself to someone who probably doesn’t even wear underwear on a fairly consistent basis.

7. Never believe the words “self-cleaning oven.”

8. Never blow your nose.

9. Hey, I’m not a doctor; I’m just a priest.

10. Silence is the ultimate kindness.

Bearded lady

December 14th, 2008    -    3 Comments


Mom, you know what’s great?

What’s that?

Some people don’t think Santa Claus is real, but he is.

Who doesn’t think he’s real?

My friend Marjorie. But that’s just because she didn’t get a laptop last year.

(When you tug, it hurts.)

Goodbye to everything else

October 6th, 2008    -    19 Comments

This year,
My sister broke her fall
My dog broke her knee
And through it all, there was one good thing
My deal disappeared
My words dried up
And through it all, there was one good thing
My other sister lost her job
My hopes took a hit
And through it all, there was one good thing
My bank failed
My future all but vanished in a day
And through it all, there was one good thing
My country collapsed
My happy ending kaput
And through it all, there was one good thing
A good so good it cannot be called good.
A thing so vast it cannot be called a thing.
A one so many it can only be called one.

Life keeps proving it cannot be grasped.
May you be safe
May we all be safe here forever
as One.

Photo by Kevin Carden

Seeing the soft bigotry of low expectations

September 1st, 2008    -    47 Comments


With apologies to those who expected more or less of me.

There was once a supremely arrogant and idiotic man who mouthed this line of someone else’s melodic prose – “the soft bigotry of low expectations” – to decry the educational imprisonment of the underprivileged. Nevermind that by his every action he condemned these underprivileged to further generations of poverty, invisibility, exploitation and pain.

Now I see what those words mean.

When you blithely send your firstborn to war and call it foreign relations.
When you leave your three-day-old at home and call it working motherhood.
When you don a dimestore tiara and call it a star.
When you adamantly oppose sex education in public schools and silence comment on your daughter’s teenage pregnancy by calling it a private matter.
When you cynically manipulate the future of the world and call it a game.
When you ignore the rules of reason, experience, wisdom, truth, legitimacy, decency and public trust and call it a gamechanger.

I see what it means.

Call me a bigot. But do not expect me to take any more or make any less of this.

On a softer note, there’s always this week’s giveaway.

There is only one thing for you to do

August 24th, 2008    -    15 Comments

This is so staggeringly simple you’ll want to sit down and see how it works in real life.

Compassion = No judgment
Authenticity = No deception
Freedom = No thought
Fearlessness = No ego
Love = No self

Making more of it is making it up. No need to research or study, analyze or compare. No slideware, no book, no CDs, no subscriptions. No seminars, no webcasts. No invention or interpretation.

There is only one thing for you to do. Sit down and practice. Everything else happens by itself.

Presented in public service and courtesy of a wide-eyed teacher 2,500 years ago.

Unlaced and ready for takeoff

August 5th, 2008    -    5 Comments

Mommy, if running gives you so much pain, why don’t you not do the marathon?

After clocking 14 miles last Sunday morning, I went to sit a meditation retreat for five days. I can testify that running is liberating, up to a point, but freedom from pain is, well, freedom.

Just sayin.

Early and often

June 2nd, 2008    -    8 Comments


More of my excerpt from the new anthology, The Maternal is Political. Go back here to read the first installment.

I was not, I thought, unduly anxious about my daughter’s educational prospects. I was not among those employing literacy tutors for my three-year-old. I did not use an Excel spreadsheet to track the application process to private kindergartens. I did not angle playdates with the grandchildren of private-school directors. I did not donate a wad of money to the schools at the top of my wish list. I did not even make a list. I simply believed that one day, when the luminous sheen of my daughter’s wonderfulness was made known, something fantastic would happen.

“Who’s John Kerry?” she asked one day, seemingly out of the blue. It was not out of the blue, but rather right out of the red, white, and blue bumper sticker on the SUV in the preschool parking lot. She pointed to it and revealed that, while I wasn’t looking, she had begun to read. It seemed early, the reading, and early too, the electioneering, although I happily took both signs as foretelling a fabulous outcome.

I had been crushed by the presidential election of 2000. Heartbroken, enraged, and then quietly, insistently, optimistic again. Four years was unimaginable, but four more was entirely impossible. Not with truth on our side. Not with smart money. Not with the Internet. And so I found myself doing what I’d never done before, not in my more than twenty years of informed and, sometimes, impassioned voting. I took the phone calls. I made the phone calls. I sent tens of dollars. I sent hundreds of dollars. I walked the precinct. I wore the button. I slapped on the bumper sticker, then saw the stickers everywhere, and not just in the parking lot of our high-priced, progressive preschool. Democratic values were alive and never wealthier, it seemed. The republic would be saved.

We took our daughter to the polls on election day of 2004. And what seemed to matter most going in—truthfulness, courage, effort, and ideals—mattered nothing in the end. One measly vote in one dinky town in one irrelevant state didn’t count for much. The republic was not only broken, it was no longer ours to fix.

“Have we ever voted for someone who won?” My daughter’s response reflected her brief life history of losing, 0 for 2, in presidential contests, but the dejection was universal. We had come to the irretrievable end of hope. And the loss, we realized, was truly hers.

***
To continue reading. To continue listening. To be continued.

Grateful dead

May 30th, 2008    -    4 Comments


From naive simplicity we arrive at more profound simplicity. – Albert Schweitzer

Is there anyone who doesn’t look at this discovery and say, well . . . duh?

***
May you find your own place to rest in peace this weekend. Back to school on Monday with more on my latest learning curve.

My bus

May 28th, 2008    -    6 Comments


School’s out for many of you. But for some, it’s always just beginning.

I always knew where it would lead.

As we cruised down the street on the morning commute to nursery school, my two-year-old would pipe up from the back seat whenever the yellow bus rumbled into view.

“My bus, my bus!”

“That’s right,” I would carefully rejoin, “A bus,” affirming the noun, but not yet the pronoun, not the possession, not the slightest quiver of possibility that the public school just down the street would one day be hers. Years before the question of schools could reasonably be raised, I already felt the fluttering clutch of resistance to her baby-talk claim.

Which school for my daughter? I waffled. Haven’t a clue, I’d think. Never given it a thought, I’d shrug, although I’d given plenty of thought to how brilliant her future would be. How bountiful her birthright. How predestined her success. Although my husband and I were public school progeny, those were different times in different places with different kinds of parents, we thought. Our parents had neither the privilege nor the need for a choice.

Our school district was as underfunded as any and especially ill-favored by those with a chance of escaping it. Decades earlier, forced busing had decimated enrollments. As incomes and property values rose, the middle class that had once populated neighborhood schools was nowhere to be found. Sixty-three private schools educated more than one-third of all children in the district. Competition for admission was severe; tuitions were stratospheric. But for parents like us, parents who could pinch and scrimp their way to having a choice, there seemed to be no other choice.

This was the state of education in our country. This was the state of our country, in which the newly elite lived in fear of being left behind with the mass of others we had falsely promised to never leave behind. This was the road the yellow bus traveled twice a day: hauling mostly Hispanic kids to and from the apartment buildings that rimmed the industrial fringe of our suburb; collecting them on the littered streets at frosty dawns and delivering them to our quaint hometown school in our million-dollar neighborhood, made empty by a herd of us heading the other way.

***
To continue reading. To continue listening. To be continued.

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