Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When heaven can't heal.

Chaos by Karim age 2 or so.

For whatever reason to days has been a  drag so far as i sit here with a nagging head ache and a stomach that is growling fir food or at least a drink, but it is not meant to be as I am fasting and fasting while at the same time being totally broke is not such as good combination to have. I am hanging in there as best i can even though there is a bottle of mineral water sitting close by on my desk and no one around to bear witness to my committing a breach of faith at present. Such is the challenges that confronts you during the fasting month though it may seem an easy task to some who has never really genuinely tried.
My daughter as expected, text me a message that reads"Dad, I am broke and also needs to buy bus ticket to get home', yeah, fortunately I have fifty in my account and forty in my wallet so, seventy Ringgit was banked into her account and the remainder will go for gasoline which is running low in the Kancil's tank. I was going to pay my 'Zakat'or tithe which amounts to 21RM for the three of us but will have to wait on that priority is in the fuel or I will be stuck not being able tod rive. This being able to nag in my blog is part of being able to drive to get here, hence kancil fuel comes first. I am not seeking sympathy in writing this but it is part and parcel of my catharsis, to let go of, to get rid of to get it all out there or I will implode. I am trying my damnedest to have faith in my practice, to give God a chance to help me out, to refuse to turn for help from my normal sources, it is a fool's road i walk on and the more deeply i find myself into this so called practice the worse i feel about who I am; perhaps this too will pass.
I have been offered to go to New York to help out one of my nieces to run her business while she delivers her baby I am very excited about it but again that doubtful feeling creeps in in the form of , will I be able to pull it off or will it be pulling me off from my comfort zone and put me into a less desirable situation than I already am. So, what is it that is gnawing at my balls at the present moment/ Money situation? The fasting? Not having had a piece for God knows how long? My daily meditation practice not producing any worthwhile results? my art being put on hold due to lack of inspiration and motivation or am I finally going to die? I should be so lucky.
The Buddhist calls this state of mind as being deluded, living in ignorance due to attachment to life itself. There is no cure in this except by seeing it through and recognizing it for what it is and move on unless one has guts enough to place the gun in your mouth and say 'Astalavista baby!" Nope too dramatic an exit and not worth the bullet. I would rather rob a millionaire or a bank if i own a gun. Are you following how my mind is working when it is under stress from all these external pressures, (or lack of it)? This is primarily how most of our minds functions daily or even moment to moment. This is my reason for keeping on writing, just to keep myself  in tune with what goes on in my head. I am my own worse enemy when it comes to cutting and chopping my self to bits and pieces often to the detriment of my  physical and not to mention my mental health. Healing my 'self' is not exactly healing myself, it is like beating my head silly against the wall just to stop it from hurting.
I am sitting in limbo, like a bird without a song as the lyric goes in Jimmy Cliff's song with the same title, my mother did tell me that there will be days like these when it is all pain and achy feelings all over. Only the Muslim God called Allah is wise enough ot come up with such spiritual game plan like the fasting month where everything just hangs out as such in order for man to test himself against his appetites and desires; there is none to blame if we succumb or give up in this as Satan and all his minions are being held in prison for this whole month of Ramadan. So, who can you blame but your own bloody weaknesses, your lack of discipline and your lack of faith and commitment. Whack! whack! whack! This is self mortification, self-abuse, this is spring cleaning of the soul and a great majority of Muslim man women and child endures it all for their faith in God as it is God's will that we fast.
Off course they are those who endures hell of allot more than i during this month of Ramadan and I don't have to look far, my cousin's husband Mohamad kalam is one such person and he has the choice of not having to if he so chooses. He never misses the five times a day prayers as well as the 'Tarawih' prayers at the mosque where they pray for twenty rakaats, (like they bow at least twenty times up and down after the evening prayer or Ishak. Very few people can go through such rigorous prayer especially after fasting throughout the day and he is approaching seventy. Then there are those who work out all day in the hot sun at construction sites and in the middle of rice fields or out in the open seas, these are real men of faith, not the likes of me. I moan and groan at every little adversity or vexations that comes my way like a wiener and has the audacity to write about it.
Bottom line is it is hard to draw any kind of conclusion as to what is right or wrong, each religion, each faith or practice is based upon one's perception of what one perceives the truth to be. I am not much for rituals but i sit and meditate, I sit and try to 'untangle the tangle', unravel the mysteries that is behind all faiths and religions, I sit to empty my mind of all inflictions due to too much thinking. I sit in order that I might find a little peace in between the thoughts that has been buzzing in my head all these years. I sit in order to stay in touch with my breath as it flows in and out. I sit just so that I can become at one with what Is. I am the center of my universe when i am sitting. I am the mirror of that reflects all that is within and without with no attachment nor rejection of all that manifest before me. When I sit I become one with the Whole, the Complete the Emptiness of my Being   

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Right Understanding -revisited

Buddha, some two thousand six hundred years ago is said to have said that, because you think, you have problems! So, what to do ? Stop thinking? How? Just stop! But thoughts are like a part of of who I am from the day i learned that i could think albeit to tell the difference from hot and cold and ever since the first thought entered my mind thoughts have been like, who I am, or who I try to be or want to become, and it seems i cannot survive without my thought processes even in my sleep i am thinking. The moment i walked out of the house I am bombarded by myriads of thoughts that pops into my head from ever single form i experience just walking to my car and I started cursing and swearing at the motorcycle riders as they try to dash in front on me while i was making a U-Turn. And I am a 'sitter, someone who meditates every chance i get and yet here I am watching my mind infested by incessant intrusions of mental dramas mostly in the forms of vexations.
Can we stop our thinking dual mind from being in the forefront of our every action, every move we make every decision we take every feeling we have? Can we become a non-thinking entity, that is can we act without the presence of a single thought prior or after we have acted like a robot? We do it allot in our daily lives only we do not fully realize it simply because it is not what we are conscious of, we are not conscious of acting spontaneously without thoughts involved most of the time, why? Well for many reasons, one of which is that we have been conditioned throughout our lives that we are a thinking animal. We are different from other animals because we think, we are proud of this fact too! However, the fact that through our ability to think we on the brink of obliterating ourselves is not really an issue with most of us as we go about our daily lives.
The Buddha is his 'Eighth Fold Path' the fourth of his 'Four Noble Truths', the path by which man can liberate himself from the cyclic bondage of 'Birth, Death and Re-Birth' that every man has to endure is said to have said that, first comes 'Right Understanding'.


The first element of the Eightfold Path is Right Understanding which arises through insights into the first three Noble Truths. If you have these insights, then there is perfect understanding of Dhamma - the understanding that:
‘All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.’ It’s as simple as that. You do not have to spend much time reading ‘All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing’ to understand the words, but it takes quite a while for most of us to really know what the words mean in a profound way rather than just through cerebral understanding.
To use modern colloquial English, insight is really gut knowledge - it’s not just from ideas. It’s no longer, ‘I think I know’, or ‘Oh yes, that seems a reasonable, sensible thing. I agree with that. I like that thought.’ That kind of understanding is still from the brain whereas insight knowledge is profound. It is really known and doubt is no longer a problem."

Hence we can deduce that it is really not our having thoughts that is the problem according to the Buddha, it is in how we think. Right Understanding of how we think or why or when is one of the most profound ways of overcoming our ignorance of who we truly are. No doubt we are a thinking animal, with minds and thought processes and this has placed us at an advantage over other creatures in our quest for survival as a specie, however as i said earlier, despite our capabilities to think, we have become the most destructive of God's creatures on this planet. We seemed doom to self annihilate, we seemed doomed to self destruct ourselves and dragging the whole planetary system with us if allowed to do so. We have 'Star wars' before we can even find our ways around outer space, we have inter dimensional conflicts before we even understand how to cross into other parallel dimensions safely and return without harm; thanks to our 'imaginative' but ignorant minds. Why have we as humans evolved into such a negative state of being relatively more so than into a more advanced, peace loving
and enlightened creatures that benefits the whole.

"We are conscious, intelligent beings with retentive memory. We have language. Over the past several thousand years, we have developed reason, logic and discriminative intelligence. What we must do is figure out how to use these capacities as tools for realisation of Dhamma rather than as personal acquisitions or personal problems. People who develop their discriminative intelligence often end up turning it upon themselves; they become very self-critical and even begin to hate themselves. This is because our discriminative faculties tend to focus upon what is wrong with everything. That is what discrimination is about: seeing how this is different from that. When you do that to yourself, what do you end up with? Just a whole list of flaws and faults that make you sound absolutely hopeless."

Hence having awakened to a realization of our primordial ignorance we can surmise that we are basically self serving, self centered, egotistical creatures that feeds upon itself inorder  that we may feel we are alive. Everything we do or encounter is about us, every episode that happens positive or negative has to do with how we see the world or it sees us. We are myopic creatures that feel the threat of change as a personal threat, the effect of climatic conditions as our responsible, we feel we are the cause of and the effect of everything that goes on in and around us personally. This personality conflict has become endemic among those who crave for power and wealth and those who feel threatened by any new changes in a society. This is living in an egoic dominated world as Eckhart Tolle has pointed out in his works.

"We are conscious, intelligent beings with retentive memory. We have language. Over the past several thousand years, we have developed reason, logic and discriminative intelligence. What we must do is figure out how to use these capacities as tools for realisation of Dhamma rather than as personal acquisitions or personal problems. People who develop their discriminative intelligence often end up turning it upon themselves; they become very self-critical and even begin to hate themselves. This is because our discriminative faculties tend to focus upon what is wrong with everything. That is what discrimination is about: seeing how this is different from that. When you do that to yourself, what do you end up with? Just a whole list of flaws and faults that make you sound absolutely hopeless."



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Only Light can remove darkness...

If you have been following the Malaysian News lately you will encounter a series of Islam Bashing, Muslim counter strikes, the need to insult, the need to defend from being insulted, the failure to communicate or fornicate about religion. One of the most outspoken of the ministers in parliament had called for the first Vatican Envoy to Malaysia to be booted out of the country for messing around with an ongoing sensitive issue about the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians in the translated Bible. A pair of wannabe infamous Chinese had decided to take poke at the religion through portraying them eating pork while the sign in the background said something to the effect that it is Ramadan,yada! yada! Most recently a youth was beaten up at a cyber cafe for 'insulting Islam'. Yes, mostly 'only in Malaysia, Malaysia Boleh!
You would think that an average intelligent person would avoid poking the hornet's nest knowing fully well the repercussion would be instant and highly detrimental to the health, but...This fasting month has been quite a challenge for the Malay Muslims as it is forbidden to loose one's temper while in the fasting mode, like it is prohibited to masturbate. So where do all the angry feelings the need to clobber some bird brain who keeps thinking that taking a poke at Islam is fun, where do the Malays hide their anger during this fasting month of Ramadan? For those who has think this matter is not as serious as it seems, they should sit among the coffee and teh tarik drinkers and listen to the flow of words about the Islam bashing issues; it is scary what goes through the minds of those who are generally not as easily provoked. These are the people who will act when push comes to shove and it will be a 'Tsunami' if things spin out of control; to die in defence of Islam is still 'Shahid' to any Muslim and to die in 'Shahid' means straight to heaven, and does not really if it is right or wrong to have this believe, for it is just so. So my question to the non-Muslim who are living in this country, is it worth it? Is it worth incurring the wrath of the Muslims knowing fully well what will happen?
The Muslims has no qualms about killing their fellow Muslims all over the Muslim world just on the basis of a difference in belief what more would they be willing to do when you keep insulting their religion for no good reason? Perhaps this is your true motive, to incite chaos, to sow the seed of anger and violence such that the country will never rise above being a mud hole or a cesspool of violence and ignorance. Then whoever you are wherever you are you deserve to be hung by your balls upside down simply because you are the the cancerous cell that preys upon society's weaknesses. You are the tumour that is growing in the minds of man and that needs to be removed without delay. Your presence on this planet is to destroy that which is the Divine nature in man; you are the anti-Christ, the Dajal! 
For generations man has been plagued by you, societies have perished on your account, you have caused untold miseries and will go on doing so until you are rooted out and slam dunked into the sixth hell realm where your kind are found. The Buddhist has a name for you, they call you Mara, the Muslims has a name for you, they call you Shaitan, the Christians has a name for you and they call you, the anti-Christ or the devil, and the Hindus has many names for you too many to mention; to the average man you are, evil. Your very existence is the destruction of humanity, to bring chaos into the lives of the sons of Adam and of late your successes has been exemplary; you have won many battles. In Syria, in Palestine, in Afghanistan, and many more places all over this planet man has taken lives of their fellow man and if the cause is closely looked into it will be discovered that you are behind all these negativity. That is what you are, the negative energy, the anti- matter, the black hole, the dark force, the ignorance; that which only the light of true Love and Wisdom can remove. Against your fury, man stand little chance of survival in this what the Muslims call 'Akhir Zaman' or what the Buddhist calls "The Dharma Ending Age' or what the Hindu calls the "Kali Yuga", the "End of Days". Only the awakened souls, the enlightened spirits, those who have arrived at full consciousness of Being can see you and stand up to you in defence of the insanity you seek to destroy mankind with.
You have been sowing the seed of discord in your dubious ways in every aspect of human existence but worse of all is your capture of the young through drugs and entertainment; you have made slaves out of millions if not billions throughout human history and the only entity that stands in your ways is the sanctity of religions; without religions man would have perished a whole lot sooner; it is the faith in all religions no matter what the belief system may be that has been the vanguard of standing in your way of the destruction of the human spirit. For so long as man holds his strong belief in the Divine, his higher self, his essence of Love and Goodness, your advance in the course of human history will be not as easy as you would like it to be. You may have won many battles in time but you have yet to win the war and the war will unite all religions in the Light of Goodness and Love, of Humility and Compassion; only Light can remove darkness.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Doing Nothing, is not, Not doing anything

A close friend's mother made the remark that "if everyone decides to run to the hills and meditate who would do the day to day chores around the house, something to that effect. It was written as an entry in the Face book which was not the appropriate place for me to respond to at the time when I read it as it also came as an advice to all, in a way.
Not everyone can run to the hills or the forest, sit by the river and meditate it simply does not happen in this day and age Most would rather stay home in their own comfort zone and work their butts off making it in this world; it is a whole lot easier. To leave this comfort zone and wander off into the wilderness of emptiness is a choice very few would even think of undertaking and those that did seldom ever return the same person. Often enough this odd person would be the pariah of the so called integrated society, the guy would be out of sorts. On the other hand the guy who listens to the advice of my friend's mother would be well received into this comfort zone called a society, a bread winner, a model of a successful business man, a great doctor or lawyer; they will all have their place and eat their slices of pie in our society. But the guy who returns with nothing worthy of being acceptable as food on the table, clothes on the back or pocket money for the children; he should go back to the forest and meditate upon it, on why he failed where society is concern.
I have met quite a few of these characters who decided they have had enough of what their society had to dish out and sought the choice of an inner journey and this they thought could be found through being removed from society and enter into a forest retreat or a monastery,They would return every now and then with long hairs and beards and eyes that look deep into the distant or right through you and many would find it hard to fit back into the reality of their society. They are lost in limbo or so we think when encountering them, but they, a few at least would feel totally lost in their own self discovered inner being; being at one with the whole, being in the now. But then what does society care about being or not being here or there now or tomorrow. Society is about making things happen, profiting and benefiting through your ability to function creatively or by hook or by crook; make it happen. if there is a God you need to worship, make it the  Al Mighty Dollar , print it in your mind, become one with the idea of being a moneymaker, call out to 'money' in your chantings and ask for more (money) when you pray, because it is never enough.  Yes , get to know the Law of Abundance  real good, this is the reality of modern day spiritualism in most society and deviation from this is like heresy.
Only a hypocrite worships God to please God, God does not need pleasing, does not need to be ass kissed, does not need to be bribed with donations and so forth; what you give in the name of God is all for your own personal good in the eyes of society. If you really care about what God thinks or likes try serving your fellow man who is really in need, feed the truly hungry, forgive the depraved and destitute and devote your love and care for nature with no hope of returns. Listen to the cries of pains and sorrows of those around you and share your love and compassion for them, point not your finger in judgement but let go of what you have in sharing and giving; become a servant of God serve the multitude. Servitude is prayer, it is the only prayer that is worthy of God.
To be in the absolute present, the 'Here and Now', to be cleansed of egoic domination, to be free from the bonds of external vexations; these are the virtues that modern man must strive to achieve in his or her daily life. The mind is like fire, it can be of great benefit or it can destroy you in a minute and to fully comprehend the workings of the mind is essential for us humans as we have been living under the illusion that we are what we think ourselves to be; this is the greatest illusion of all that most fail to realize. One of the methods by which to achieve this realization is to remove oneself from the influences of the present environment that has been one's comfort zone. The sounds the smell the taste the ideas the day to day dramas the endless routine of pleasing and being pleased by others; this has to come to an end for the mind to make any significant shift from what it is to what it truly needs to be; from ignorance to a state of awakened being.
This is why those who has a slight inclination towards this understanding makes the necessary move from one environment to another, from chaos to tranquility from delusions to awakening. In order for this to happen the silencing of the mental activities caused by the lack of awareness of such an occurrence will have to take precedence over all else. It is in meditation retreats that this is possible especially in this day and age. The need to shift in gear from the 'Fast and Furious" to that of 'Forest Gump' mode, will be a good start to focus on. slowing down and taking a closer look at what really is, is paramount in our quest to be in the now, to be present, to just Being.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What to do?

My friend David Carlson has done it, I think he fixed my blog entry problem and he is all the way ther in Esenada somewhere in Baha, Mexico? I miss David, he is one of those guys i had wish i could grow old with and perhaps kick the bucket while getting stoned on some lonely beach somewhere or a monastery, but...shit happens, life is change and changes makes things a little more complicated and so David is in wherever he is and i am here stuck dealing with my own head day to day wondering what went wrong or could i have done any different or is this the 'Summit of my mystique mountain,' the end of my adventures the end of my road.

My Buddy David and Dianne
 I met David while i was living at the Green Gulch Zen Centre, out in Sausalito, Marin Countty, California where we did several practice periods together while indulging in various un-Zenlike activities on the side like eating mushrooms that were not meant for cooking and smoking weeds that came from Humboldt County, Hawaii, Colombia and Mexico, for health and spiritual purposes. I doubt that at this age David gives a hoot that i am exposing ourselves of our good old days when we had not much in ownership and a whole lot of hot airs and smoking guns that got us into hot soups in more than one ways with the females of the Zen community. Never did i ever felt more freedom in my life than when i was sitting and facing the wall in the Zendo, (meditation hall) at Green Gulch. I had a some of the best friends a man could ever ask for in such similar circumstances, and these guys were masters in the former lives doing what they did albeit as computer programmers or stock brokers, or just plain old drifters remnants of the old Hippie days.
David always held my respect, he had the ability to calm and comfort and often enough pulled me out of many of my trials and tribulations with life; he was an older brother i never had, he persuaded me into the right path without making it an effort. We spent many days together exploring the Muir Beach, Tamalpais hills and valleys, sometimes on moonlit nights and we later explored the Golden Gate Park areas in San Francisco like our own backyard while raising our children in the vicinity. I met my late wife Nancy through meeting David who was then living in the same house at 191, Haight Street along with some of the most uniquely weird people among whom included an acupuncturist or two, a masseurs, a lesbian or two and an English lady who was an illegal alien (who David later married to make her legal), a Jewish Jack of all trades (now own probably half of San Fran) among others. On looking back 191 Haight Street was a real nut house and we did hold many head spinning meetings that would make a shrink visit looks petty. It was here that i met Nancy, living among a mixed lot made up of Yuppies and Bums.
Above were two of my brothers whose life touched mine while i was living at the'Gulch'. Jim Abrams and 'The Rev.Terry Sutton. Jim was a part Cherokee Indian (baldy) while Terry was from Lincoln, Nebraska. The boy they were handling is my son Karim.
The green Gulch trails leading into the Tamalpais hills eventually or towards the Marin Headlands in another direction. Most people would have to pay a good amount to afford to spend a few days here as a retreat, I lived in this place for nearly two years and had one of the best periods of my life. Thanks to my brothers in robes, David C. David L, Jim B and Terry S., not to mention Peter R. and a few others.
Special mention should be made when it comes to friends at the monastery, Ed Brown, what a man! My teacher and friend who talked me through many an identity crisis I use to have while practicing Zen. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Etchings - Mother and Child series.

Creating etchings is a n involved process which I love to do but has no patience for. It involves various stages of preperation from getting the copperplate primed to perfection to knowing how long the plate should be left in the acid bath.
I practically gave it up on account that i hated waiting for the plate to be ready and the messy business of inking and the meticulousness of prpeeration before the print is rolled through the press.Also perhaps because etchings or rpintmaking in general is slowly fading into obsecurity in the Fine Art.
The 'Mother and Child' exhibition was held at the Aoba Gazo Gallery in Sendai, Japan. I did all my printing at the Miyagi Museum of Fine Arts in Sendai. There was a Professor from Colorado who was also a master printmaker when i was doing my works there, cannot remeber his name off my head but he was slightly older than me and was very much a gentleman.

What's up Doc?

Ya I made it to the mosque yesterday for the Friday prayer and the same scenario of having some pompous idiot arrive next to you and throws down a bunch of keys on the prayer mat in front of him! Kaboom! my mind went off with a assault and battery scenario, of kicking the guy's teeth in and so on and so on...Then by chance he  might have felt my vengeance towards his presence he moved away and left a gap between us to be filled up immediately by a young kid who has the air of being  in the know with God. What irks me right off about this kid was that he keeps twitching his finger like he is pointing toward ten different directions when he was doing the Tahiatul, where in a sitting position you at one point, you point with your index finger foreword as though at God in front of you. This kid has his finger wiggling away here and there and everywhere until one cannot help but agree with him, that God is indeed everywhere; I could reached over and broke that finger but i was sitting there before God, how could I?
Off course in looking at it all afterwards you realize that it is all my own vexations created through being attached too much to forms, to externals and to what is going on around me rather than keeping my consciousness close to home. I usually sit in meditation for half an hour to 45 minutes while waiting for the Imam to five his Kuthbah or sermon and usually I have my eyes close to keep myself from being distracted...but. This is why I seldom pray at the mosques except on Fridays.

The fasting can bring out the best and the worst in a person and fro it seems that i have yet to earn my rights to the best when it comes to anything religious, I just cannot seem to be receptive enough towards what being in the presence of God is as my mind has been trained for so long to rebel against any form of constraints, coercions or cajoling. The Vatican has sent its envoy for the first time in history to Malaysia to add to the religious colors of this multi religious country. With the representative of the Pontiff in our midst we hope that we will get the benefit of his wisdom towards these nagging issues we are faced with like the use of the word 'ALLah" in the English Bible or is it the Malay translated bible. Whatever the case may be everyone who is interested in God, Allah and the whole religious scene is up in arms for and against the issue and this has been going on for the last few years; I wonder if God or Allah has changed somewhat by now. All is transitory said the Buddha, nothing remains the same as human minds can never stay on one plain for too long, the word Allah may take on a whole different meaning by the end of the day who knows. We are still trapped in names and forms but fail to feel the essence of Being one with God or Allah; and if we do we often enough fail to see what it is that God sees in His own image in us. We are running after our own shadows like Peter Pan, trying to catch it and keep it with us all the time when it is already if we let it be. Instead we trudge along like Zombies emotionless seeking some live forms to consume so that we can keep on warbling along and call it living. We kill in the course of our living, we kill to stay alive and relevant even as zombies. Then there are vampires! oh how we love vampires and their lifestyle, we make great movies out of them just to keep our hopes up that we are free from our forms or we can remain in our forms for eternity if we know how to live off others. Zombies and vampires may not exist in reality but they are great human psychic projections that we create mentally to occupy our warped imaginations. To justify our yearn for the taking of lives and the possibility of longevity, atattachment to this mind dominated life has made us desperate to preserve our forms at whatever cost; we have been selling body parts all over the world in case you have not been informed. Hearts, liver, kidneys, eye balls, you name it we got it in today's market, just name your price.

 Oh, what a wonderful world we live in, is there any other place like this home of ours out there among the stars, my next venture would be into astral travelling to check out for any more exciting lives out there.