Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 21

Finally, I beat my cold and sinus issues. It took awhile and before you start jumping all over my lifestyle, let me go ahead a stop you right there. It was not my lack of food or whatever else you might assume. No, it was my incense. The stuff was about as dirty as it can get and since it's been cold outside, the windows have been closed during many of my meditation sessions. That's pretty much concentrated poison going directly into my lungs. No more incense.

So I'm feeling good. I got my blood work back and all is well. Even though I wasn't expecting much, you always get nervous. I got an HIV/AIDS/STD test (had to for school), TB test and about a dozen other things checked out in the stuff and I'm all clean. I also found out that I'm O-negative. There's always that part of you that scares for no reason. I had a comprehensive test done a couple years ago before getting married and was clean then too, but you never know and when the imagination runs wild, there's no taming it. 

So, that whole thing is done.  Now I have to battle the blood pressure issue. I have a pretty solid game plan though. In short, no smoking, more exercise and more overall care for myself. I guess we all get to a certain point when health becomes something to worry about. I just wish it didn't happen so early for me, but what can I do? I'm not going to spin this as one of those "this was actually a good thing" cases. High blood pressure is a bad thing. I don't need to delude myself into thinking it's a turning point or a blessing in-disguise.

I've officially decided to swear-off all expressions that equate to "When life gives you lemons, made lemonade." That stuff doesn't help. Instead, I've changed it to "When life gives you lemons, thrown them away and drink water instead." Why waste my time working with the negative, when I can drink the purest thing in the world: reality.

I'm feeling good these days though. I've given myself more than enough time to think and organize my thoughts. I've adjusted some priorities and, in general, I'm feeling pretty great when I wake up every morning. Is it Buddhism? Partly 'yes' and partly 'no'.

More to come on that front though...


I had a pretty serious meditation session last night. Depending on the time of day, I either meditate with my eyes open or closed. At night, I generally go for the eyes open method. I've fallen asleep enough times to know that closing my baby-blues doesn't go over to well past 9:00pm. So, rather than sitting in total darkness, I decided to put on a video of a sun setting over a nice pristine lake. 

Just for fun, let's assume it was this one.

Pretty nice, right? So, I was staring at my very large and un-Buddhist flat screen teevee for nearly thirty minutes when I started thinking about the physical nature of Buddha and my own perception of worldly beauty.

Specifically, do I see Buddha when I look at this picture?

Perhaps I'm wondering this because I was raised in a largely Judeo-Christian  society and was bombarded with corny Jesus posters and album covers depicting God or Jesus as beams of light or accompanying footprints in the sand. Whatever it is, I've been somewhat conditioned to view cheesy sunset images in this manner.

As I mentioned last week, Buddha stresses his humanness throughout his teachings. I identified with that because I like the idea of my teacher being a mentor rather than a figurehead. I still like that. However, the Dharma also states that Buddha is everywhere; a message that modern scholars have expanded on.

“Buddha can’t be avoided. Buddha is everywhere. Enlightenment possibilities are all over the place. Whether you’re going to get married tomorrow, whether you’re going to die tomorrow, whatever you may feel, that familiar awake quality is everywhere, all the time. From this point of view, everything is a footprint of Buddha, anything that goes on, whether we regard it as sublime or ridiculous. Everything we do — breathing, farting, getting mosquito bites, having fantastic ideas about reality, thinking clever thoughts, flushing the toilet — whatever occurs is a footprint.”
So, he's omnipotent and human. That--to me--get's into the gray area that Christians call the the "Trinity". Regardless, I'll accept the premise. Okay, Buddha is human AND he's omnipotent. 

Buddha also stresses that this world is full of suffering because humans typically fall victim to desire. I agree with that as well.  I personally find myself desiring many things everyday and particularly things and lives that other people have. I know that's normal, but I'm finding myself less concerned about that and more appreciative of what I have in front of me. Overall, I really enjoy most of what Buddhism stands for and teaches. It's a wonderful religion that everyone could benefit from studying.

Yet as a Buddhist, when I look at that picture above, I don't know how I should feel. The naturalist in me sees immense beauty and a desire for a simpler life. And that's not really in contrast with the message of Buddhism. I'm supposed to strive for a simplified life where watching a sun set over a serene lake is a routine.
The world is a burning house. 
This quote is referring to the ignorance of people and how destructive that nature is to their own tranquility. I understand the message  and it makes sense, but the message almost seems like overkill. By constantly focusing on the mirage-like appearance of the world (and how bad it is), the religion is distancing itself from it. That's a let down for me. I know that Buddhism--like most religions--pushes the idea that this world is only temporary and wasting energy on it is pointless, but I like this earth and want to waste a lot of energy on it and in it.

Some of my best memories in life have been spent outdoors in this "burning world". My parents were not the outdoor-types in the traditional sense, but we spent some serious time in the wilderness. No, month-long packing trips and shooting the rapids usually weren't on the Spring Break itinerary. They did, however, send me and my sister to places where we could go camping, shoot the rapids and scale rock faces. And as a result, both my sister and I love spending as much time in nature as possible.

I don't like the notion that I'm wasting my time out there because reality is actually in my mind. I also like the idea that there's something more powerful in nature than my mind alone. I'm not saying I want to do this.

Nor am I saying I prefer the Abrahamic approach to the pagan, but I do want to feel like the experience is real and worthwhile.


  1. You're well on your way to fixing your BP in several ways. Not the best study, but the best I could find today:

  2. Well that didn't work... if it doesn't work for you either, try and look at the article "Hypertension and blood pressure among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans in EPIC–Oxford."

  3. A lot of wisdom here that just calms me down in reading it!