Friday, November 18, 2011


Tumblr is easier to post to so I have "moved" over my old posts and continuing to blog there. Please join me.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Bright green leaves, buds, new births

Darkening, brightening, warm days awash with activity

First leaf struck with a tinge of yellow

Where have the last 5 months gone?

Not truly living? This does not matter.

Life is.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Ah, blogging. I was talking with a friend the other day about his limited free time. He loves to game, he loves to write, he loves to read, he commutes to work and has a 2 year old and a 2 month old and he is at odds with how to spend his free time. I have the same types of pulls on my time and I often default to mindless gaming. But his lamenting did raise some questions for me on “what is a writer” and how in this day and age does one fill that desire.

This then made me think about my blogging efforts. I go very long periods without blogging anything. I am always planning to blog and have lots of things I would love to get down in a blog, if nothing else to have a search-able repository of things I find interesting and it less gated and controlled than facebook. I never blog like I think I should...or certainly in a way that I think might be useful for me.

But, if you think are are a writer or you love to write then blog. Maybe no one will read it. Maybe your writing style is poor. I have certainly been out of school and out of practice long enough that my writing is often borderline horrible. But blogging is inherently selfish. We control it and we put what WE want others to perhaps see. Or not. None of that matters. If you want to write, then write. And I suggest you start and write a blog and update it whenever your brain tells you to.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


So why did I take a 2 year hiatus from this blog I was just starting? I don't know. Seriously. I'm not a great writer but I do feel like i have some things to share so I am going to start again. So how about a little history of the last 2 years.

I think it is true that Buddhism seems to draw people in who have looked elsewhere and found it lacking. For me I was first faced with the failure of my marriage. My wife surprised me by basically saying we were done. Or that is how I remember it. It's always different depending on the eyes that see a situation or the mouth that speaks of it. I picked up a book called When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön while looking for books on Soka Gakkai. I was hooked. It then took 2 years for my marriage to actually fall apart completely, which is where I find myself now. But this blog is only related to that, not about it so the best said directly the better. :-p

I have been self exploring Buddhism ever since. Yes I am aware that it is a hard and even treacherous path to tread alone. And I can't say that it has been easy for me. Soka Gakkai seemed so political. Pema Chödrön really inspired me but honestly Shambhala seems like a great place to find literature but between the organization itself, and all the "experts" who surround it, the obvious vast amounts of money that circulate make me leery. Oh, I am sure they are mostly good people and they have good intentions but it just worried me a little too much.

Lately I have been reading more of Noah Levine's writings, which resonate more with me than anything. Of course I am not one of the lucky ones who lives near enough to an official center to attend sessions etc but the reading is great. On a side note if you know of a group near Frederick, MD feel free to drop me a line. The DC meetings are too far.

So here I am, still on the path, still "budding" and not blooming. But maybe sharing a little as I move ahead will help me and you.


How does a person start to live life as a Buddhist?  Yes, there is meditation.  I struggle with this.  My mind is very busy.  But I try and I find that in even 5 minutes I can usually find little 15-45 second periods when I feel present.  And some times that makes a huge difference.  Maitri, or loving kindness is another struggle.  In some ways I think I do it out of myself to well, and for myself not well enough.  In the past 6 months my compassion for people and humanity is pretty crazy, but with that compassion comes a lot of pain.  And not trying to not give yourself the option to suppress that pain, but rather open yourself to it fully and be present with it fully is very hard.  And not yet being skilled means that this pain crosses over to other things.  When that line blurs it is a struggle.

So what is my guide?  I have yet to have a real teacher. I know I need one.  But I'm not so sure I am ready for that yet.  I have expanded my Pema Chödrön books to all but her latest two, and I plan to get those next.  So as I am going through life what am I using for guidance.  It's simple really.  I play a little game with myself called "what would Pema Chödrön do?".  Of course I don't know Pema, though I would love to spend even a day just listening to her in person.  But through her writing and lectures I feel like I know how she would approach many situations in life.  I don't think I will be as content with life and firm in my Buddhism as she is for many many years, but WWPCD is a start.

So, yes, I am a learning lay Buddhist and it is a very exciting and heart opening experience.  The 4 noble truths just make so much sense to me.  And by and large Buddhism is a way of living, not controlling by fear which has always driven me from other more western traditional religions.

"Buddhism does not accept a theory of God, or a creator. According to Buddhism, one's own actions are the creator, ultimately. Some people say that, from a certain angle, Buddhism is not a religion but rather a science of mind. Religion has much involvement with faith. Sometimes it seems that there is quite a distance between a way of thinking based on faith and one entirely based on experiment, remaining skeptical. Unless you find something through investigation, you do not want to accept it as fact. From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion. Buddhism can be a bridge between these two sides. Therefore, with this conviction I try to have closer ties with scientists, mainly in the fields of cosmology, psychology, neurobiology and physics. In these fields there are insights to share, and to a certain extent we can work together." - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

So this is the start of my steps in life to being more mindful.

Update Sunday, August 29th, 2010 - I wrote this almost 2 years ago and not sure why I never posted it.  It hold true today as much as if not more so then then.  I won't go in to detail in this post all the changes the last two years have brought me, but there have been many many and I hope to get to those later.  If anyone is out there reading this I wanted to make sure I posted the final part.  I promise more to follow soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

WWPCD Part 2 - The Search

I think I always figured that a life change would make spirituality,
specifically Christianity, more palatable.  I took a hard look when my
daughter was born and still did not feel right about Christianity.  Shortly thereafter I began working for a company based in Israel.  I had been semi-joking for years that if I did pick up religion as a part of life it would be Judaism.  I had even checked out several books on the subject and honestly it seemed much closer to the way i felt about religion and "God" than Christianity did.  But, it still never clicked...I just did not feel fulfilled thinking about it.

I have been a fan of the band Faithless for years.  Maxi Jazz, being older yet very hip, has been a constant fascination.  I am impressed not only with his skills as a musician, but his attitudes about life and drive to be a good and socially aware person.  I had not thought much about Buddhism, honestly, but when reading his Wikipedia entry and discovering that he is an active Sōka Gakkai buddhist I began to get interested.  I did some research on the web and one day headed to the library to see if I could find any books published by Sōka Gakkai.  I was disappointed to not find any, though I did find Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism.  Ultimately I shied away from Sōka Gakkai as it really struck me as more of a olitical movement than just being spiritual.  I have since opened my heart a little more to accepting that practicing the Dharma comes in many forms, but at the time it just did not mesh with me.

I headed over from the library to an awesome little store we have in Frederick, MD called Ten Thousand Joys.  I also did not find any books there on Sōka Gakkai.  Though one book did catch my attention.  However, now is a good time to share something else that was going on in my life.  My wife and I had been together for 13 years.  Right about the time it seems many couples have issues connecting.  She also has a lot of issues stemming from her childhood that seemed to come to a head right at that time.  When you add additional stress from me becoming estranged from my best friend of 12 years, our marriage was close to a breaking point.

I wandered through the "relationships" books and nothing caught my eye.  But I also did not want to leave empty handed.  Something was drawing me through the store.  As I wandered back to the Buddhism books again I semi-embarrassed looked at that book I had found on my first round.  I casually pulled it down and began flipping through it.  It was When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön.  I am not sure why I was so embarrassed to pick the book up.  Worse was looking at it.  But i could not put it down.  I was flipping through it reading maybe 1/4 page at a time and everything she said just made sense.  But this was not Sōka Gakkai, this was Tibetan Buddhism.  But, I bought it.  And I took it home.  And I began to read.  And I discovered Tibetan Buddhism, Pema Chödrön style.

With all the press etc related to Tibet I
initially felt a little like drawing away from Tibetan Buddhism as well.  But the
more I learned about Buddhism the more and more I kept coming back to
Tibetan Buddhism.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WWPCD Part 1 - The Early Years

I have had a empty space related to spirituality for years.  I was a regular church goer as a child, raised first as a Lutheran and then as a Methodist from the age of 10-13 when we lived in Germany.  My strongest memories of that time was the social aspect, from gathering in the basement to share in the wonderful food of the international scene we lived in, to the immense participation in an excellent church production of Amahl and the Night Visitors (I was a boy soprano Amahl!).  When we moved back to the US, for various reasons most of my family lost interest in church when I was ~13 and beyond a few attempts for 6 months or so we never attended church regularly as a family and for me virtually not at all.

My eldest sister began college about this time and had really gotten the Christian religious bug from our time in Germany.  In college she got involved in a church that seemed to use many cult like tactics, though I would not go so far as to classify them as a cult.  This was really my first introduction to the seedier side of religion.  Self righteous people who try and force their views on others through pressure, manipulation, and fear.  Trips that early on were really cool...staying up late playing role playing games with my big sisters cool friends...became times for another maybe well meaning, but pushy Christian to try and convince me to accept jesus as my christ and savior.  I have a vivid memory of one guys asking me if I thought I was going to heaven.  When I answered that I was pretty sure, he launched in to a 15 minute lecture about how he was 100% sure and if i just accepted these lines in the bible as truth I could be sure as well.

In general organized religion has not sat well with me for 25 years.... especially the "fear tactics" and "one path to salvation" which always exists outside of yourself and your relationship with spirituality or God.  And all to often seems to be tied with money.

But this did not mean that I didn't have a part of me that yearned for spirituality.