For the most part, I don't review the books I present on these pages. I let the words of the author tell you all you might want to know. But with Merullo's book, I just couldn't resist. It seemed that every page, from the very first, kept putting a smile on my face. That is a precious gift in these times.
The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end—for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men—one of them in search of the truth, the other a man who may have already found it. ____When Otto Ringling, a husband, father, and editor, departs on a cross-country drive from his home in a New York City suburb to the North Dakota farmhouse in which he grew up, he is a man on a no-nonsense mission: to settle the estate of his recently deceased parents. However, when his flaky sister convinces him to give a ride to her guru, a crimson-robed Skovordinian monk, Otto knows there will be a few bumps in the road. ____As they venture across America, Otto and the affable, wise, irritating, and inscrutible holy man engage in a battle of wits and wisdom. Otto, a born skeptic, sees his unwanted passenger as a challenge: a man who assumes the knowledge of the ages yet walks a mortal's path. But he also sees their unexpected pairing as an opportunity to take Volya Rinpoche on a journey of cultural discovery, with visits to quintessentially American landmarks (the Hershey's factory, Wrigley Field) and forays into some favorite American pastimes (bowling, miniature golf, dining out). ____It is Otto, however, who has embarked on the real journey, that of self-discovery, led by his strange and remarkable passenger. By the time they reach North Dakota, Otto's head is reeling with the understanding that so much of what he had believed—as well as so much of what he had doubted—must be rethought before his journey can truly begin. ____Witty and inventive, Breakfast with Buddha takes readers into the heart of America and in the process shows us a man about to discover his own true heart.
Everyone going, always going, always hurrying, but headed where?
I think sometimes that our national obsession with sex is really nothing more than a profound spiritual longing in desguise: the desire to exhaust all other desires and feel loved and sated, at peace with our fragmented modern selves, linked to those around us. At peace, at rest.
When you are a crank, you put yourself on the top of the list of people you make miserable.
It's not about religion, it's about relationship.
...if Christ's message could be distilled down to one line, that line would have to do with kindness and inclusiveness, not rules and divisiveness.
"Work out your own salvation with diligence." Buddha
You change your spiritual condition - by prayer, by meditation, by the way you live, the way you decide to think, by the lessons you learn in living this life with good intentions - and then, when this happens, after a long time or a short time, the way you see the world changes.
What difference makes what you believe? What happens will happen anyway, exactly the same, no matter what you believe. What you do makes the important part, what you do.
"How does one get one's mind that clean?" That is the very best question... The answer is a simple answer, but very hard also: Life a good life. Help people. Meditate. Live another good life. Meditate some more. Don't hurt. Don't hurt.
When your mind is more clear, you see the true way the world is made. When you see the true way the world is made, you feel at peace inside. You see how you make your own world, so then you can make a difference if you want.
...I was in control of my spiritual situation, not God; that we had been given the tools for an expanded consciousness and it was up to us to use them, not simply wait around for death and salvation.
People make their armor from their smartness, their anger, or their quiet, or their fear, or their being busy, or their being nice. Some people make it from a big show, always talking. Some make it by being very important. Many people do not make it, though, and those people can begin to see the world as it is.
There are people who are past being hurt, beyond being hurt. You should know this is true. You should try to become one of these people, to make an understanding with yourself that you are not your body, that you are something bigger. That is your work on this earth, do you see? Every experience here is to teach you to do that. Living, dying, every experience.
Every day, many times every day, you can go one way or the other way. You can go with anger or not go. Go with greed or not go. Go with hate or not go. Go with eating too much or sexing too much, or not go. Two ways. These feel like small things, small choices, but every day, across one life, across many, many lives, if you choose the good way, again and again and again, in what you are thinking and what you are doing, if you choose to go away from anger not toward, away from hate, not toward, away from armor, not toward, away from falseness, not toward...then you become this person like you - good, not stealing, not hurting. Some people make good choices in their past lives and so, like you, they are given maybe an easy life for this time. Not the perfect life, not the life with no trouble or pain in it at all, but a life where it easier to turn the mind to the spiritual part... So you have a small quiet space in your mind from that. And that quiet space gives you a chance to see deep, deep into the world if you want to. Another choice, yes? You can take that choice and look deep, or no. But if a person goes the other way, little choice and little choice toward the bad and the selfish, life after life, hour after hour, then this spirit does not have the good incarnation, so does not have the quiet space. Sometimes that person becomes the one who kills, who rapes, who hurts. Other times, in this life, they maybe make a big change to the good. Do you see?
...God is just giving out love and giving out love and giving out love, like a...like a very nice music is always playing. If you hurt people you make yourself deaf to this music, that's all. Not God's fault, your fault. Not God's judgement, your choice, you see? Life and life you make yourself no chance, and then one life maybe you start to change, and be a little quiet inside, and listen to this music that is always there - for you, for the bad people, always there. Even the most bad people live in their trouble for thousands of lives, and then, one moment, they chose a different way. They go this way and not that way. One choice, another choice. They start to come on the long trip home.
At some point you had to risk the ridicule of the mob, of your own internalized voices, and try to see clearly what had been set in front of you in this life, and try to act on that as bravely and honestly as you could, no matter what kind of rules you'd previously been living by.
Well, here in Midwest, we finally got our first real winter storm, complete with snow and ice. Since I returned, I've been pretty good about getting my daily run in. It's so hard to restart at a later date that I don't really want to take much of a winter break. While snow is just more work, ice can be dangerous to run on leading to all sorts of injuries. So, better to be prepared.
Specifically I love trail running (cross-country) and I'm lucky enough to have a wide boulevard nearby that I can run for miles in the grass between tree-lined lanes. So, a bit of snow is just more challenging. The scary part is the pavement that cuts across this green expanse, especially when it's covered with sheet of ice. You can buy things like the YakTrax Pro (~$28) which can be put on the bottom of your shoes for improved traction.
But, on Bad Ben's Trail Running Site (aka Kansas City Trail Nerds), he posted a link for Screw Shoes, posted by Matt Carpenter. It's not a new idea, but Matt has put together a nice instruction page on how to turn a pair of running shoes into ice-eating machines. [laugh]
The idea is very simple - buy 30-40 machine screws (~$2) and screw them into the bottom tread of your shoes. Like Matt says in his instructions, using a drill and a socket greatly speeds the process. I used 3/8" screws for the ball of the shoe and 1/2" for the heel. Not one screw came up through the bottom but I decided not to take any chances with them poking up through during a run. After I had screwed them in, I removed them and used wire cutters to cut off the pointy tip and then re-screwed them back in. The point doesn't really serve any purpose after the hole has been made anyway.
Here's a picture of the finished soles
As you can see, I put 5 screws in the heel and then 12 screws in the forefoot. I just used the raised flat areas on the tread to determine placement and number. So, each tread will have differences. And I pulled out the insole just to check to see if the screws came up through the bottom. Everything looks good.
Took them out for a run today and they worked great. I didn't slip once on the ice.
PS. If you do run this winter, be careful. Our city streets are dangerous enough with huge vehicles traveling at break-neck speeds, but throw a little rain, snow or worse, ice into the mix and it is infinitely worse. So, be careful and be thankful that you can keep running another day.
One of the first things I did once I returned home was to buy a new MacBook, a black one. Yippie! And I had that fired up, I went surfing for software to really get the most out of this wonderful piece of hardware. If your new to Macs, or thought of coming over from the 'other side', you're going to love it. I always thought that software, especially free or donationware, would be hard to find for Apple computers. Wrong! Below are a few of the software downloads that I use and thought you might find helpful too.
I was amazed at how many language files are on a new Mac. You just run this little jewel once, but that's enough. Monolingual removes unnecessary language resources from Mac OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space (140 Mb of my MacBook). FREE
I don't know about you, but my alarm clock could wake the dead and I'm not sure that's such a good way to come awake in the morning. And waking up to the local morning radio show is just annoying. Found this FREE alarm clock and I set up my own 'wake up alarm' playlist. Works perfectly, even if the computer is asleep. FREE/donation
Here is an iTunes script that will take several audio files, for example from book on CD, and join them together into one large file with chapter bookmarks and will even put it in your audiobook section of iTunes (otherwise your book on CD ends up in your music section). FREE/donation
In the old days, I would tape radio shows and re-record on cassette tape. Now, I use iTunes to listen to radio stations from all over the world. And with this program, I can record what is being streamed through iTunes (or any app). I can even set up scheduled recording sessions. It's not free but it's worth it. $68
And while WireTap Studio has an audio editing tool, I've been using Audacity for years and still like how easy it is to use. It will play audio files, give you a visual waveform, making it easy to cut and past, and finally export into other audio formats. FREE/donation
I might be a rare bird but I only have completely legal software, music and video on my computer. And while iTunes makes it easy to upload music from CDs, DVDs are different. With this app I can 'rip' one of my DVDs to my laptop to view later, and with a much smaller amount of disk space taken. Works great. FREE
Back when I was still a Windows user (what was I thinking), I became a big believer in 'open source' software. The big one for me at that time being OpenOffice, a MSOffice alternative, and free. So, once I moved to Macs, I downloaded the Apple version called NeoOffice. Has everything I might need in an office suite: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing programs. FREE/donation
I know, Macs come with Preview, but in OS X Tiger it was mainly a file viewer. But, now it has been upgraded to so you can edit images, rearrange and merge PDF files, even rotate pages or apply special filters. It has replace one of my other 'must have' gems, PDFLab (great if you still use Tiger). Using my NeoOffice above, I can create PDF files of my documents. Using Preview I can then manipulate the pages to create other documents, like combining documents, deleting or adding blank pages, rotating a page, and even applying special effects filters. Cool. FREE
Synopsis: "Start Where You Are" is an indispensable handbook for cultivating fearlessness and awakening a compassionate heart. With insight and humor, Pema Chödrön presents down-to-earth guidance on how we can "start where we are" — embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives. Pema Chödrön frames her teachings on compassion around fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddhist maxims, or slogans, such as: "Always apply only a joyful state of mind," "Don't seek others' pain as the limbs of your own happiness," and "Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment." Working with these slogans and through the practice of meditation, "Start Where You Are" shows how we can all develop the courage to work with our inner pain and discover joy, well-being, and confidence.
With our minds we make a big deal out ourselves, out of our pain, and out of our problems.
I'd like to encourage us all to lighten up, to practice with a lot of gentleness.
"Well, mylife has taught me to be more curious than afraid." Ishi
There's nothing really wrong with passion or aggression or ignorance, except we take it so personally...
By acting out or repressing we invite suffering, bewilderment, or confusion to intensify.
Underneath all that craving or aversion or jealousy or feeling wretched about yourself, underneath all that hopelessness and despair and depression, there's something extremely soft, which is called bodhichitta.
...compassion starts with making friends with ourselves, and particularly with our poisons - the messy areas.
...so this is very important, this making friends with ourselves. It's the key to a more sane, compassionate planet.
What you do for yourself - any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself - will affect how you experience the world.
How can we help? The way we can help is by making friends with our own feelings of hatred, bewilderment and so forth. Then we can accept them in others.
The only way to effect real reform is without hatred.
...other people trigger the karma that we haven't worked out.
"You should never have expectations for other people. Just be kind to them." Trungpa Rinpoche
"But you only get two minutes for regret." unknown
The happiness we seek is our birthright. To discover it we need to be more gentle with ourselves, more compassionate toward ourselves and our universe. The happiness we seek cannot be found through grasping, trying to hold on to things. It cannot be found through getting serious and uptight about wanting things to go in the direction we think will bring happiness. We are always taking hold of the wrong end of the stick. The point is that the happiness we seek is already here and it will be found through relaxation and letting go rather than through struggle.
You begin to realize that all the (Buddhist) teachings are about yourself; you're here to study yourself.
Dharma is basically a good recipe for how to cook yourself, how to soften the hardest, toughest piece of meat. Dharma is good instruction on how to stop cheating yourself, how to stop robbing yourself, how to find out who you really are...
Searching for happiness prevents us from ever finding it.
Buddhism itself is all about empowering yourself, not about getting what you want.
The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need in order to open your heart.
The key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet, comes from being able to lighten up.
The key to compassionate action is this: Everybody needs someone to be there for them, simply to be there.
If we really want to communicate, we have to give up knowing what to do. When we come in with our agendas, they only block us from seeing the person in front of us.
Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than trying to seek harmony.