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 28

It's been 28 days of no coffee, sugar, dinner, beer, booze, caffeine, meat, fish, cursing, yelling, anger, soft drinks, deception, porno, masturbation, cigs, beds, dancing, music or snacks. It's also been 28 days of bowing, meditating, studying, thinking, writing, reading, discussing, happiness, clarity, sore legs, silence and freedom.

If you look at that list, you'd might think that all of those things are great. I shouldn't be indulging in many of the vices listed above. You're right. I shouldn't be. And honestly, I don't need to be either. It hasn't been easy, though. So, let's talk about the hard ones, shall we?

Coffee, Sugar and Dinner
"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself."
I like coffee, but I don't really care for the flavor or resulting caffeine boost I get. Caffeine actually makes me feel a little nauseous. Still, I like the mood of coffee and prefer drinking it with my wife on weekend mornings while we chat over the paper or on a morning stroll with the pup. And even though it made me feel a little ill, I've drank several cups of the stuff a day for years. The addiction started years ago while I was teaching Kindergarten. I think it made me feel like more of a teacher than a babysitter. Not only does coffee make me feel like vomiting, it also creates poop issues (especially in the morning). However, since I have reduced my intake, my morning gas and possible leave-the-classroom-poop-attacks have subsided as my digestive system is moving much smoother. If I must drink it, it'll be decaf.

Coffee's one thing, but it's amazing and a little frightening just how much sugar I used to consume. I was never aware of my soft drink habits until I had to quit. Candy bars and ice cream were the bitter casualties of the month, though. Snickers were always great fillers and ice cream has been a friend of mine since the ice cream truck trolled my childhood street looking for kids with an extra buck. I liked the Banana-Fudge Blasts. They were simply marvelous. In all honestly though, giving up sugar is impossible. In its absence, I have gained much more affection for fruit and veggie juices, so rather than quitting sugar, I'll just substitute other, more healthy drinks. 

Dinner, however, is much different than those other "extras". Dinner is nourishment and it was hard to go without it. But I've gotta be honest, I ate dinner twice. I had to with my meds. Not eating dinner is interesting, though. It makes you feel your sacrifice and commitment to the religion. Your mind and body get into the game. I liked that aspect of it. It also taught me how to have a little more self-control. My mind is the boss here, not my stomach. That said, I'm looking forward to eating dinner come May. This weekend, the wife and I are going out for 꼬막 and 막걸리 on Saturday. Don't worry though, if I drink too much, I'll just head to confession on Sunday morning.

Beer and Booze
"Every human being is the author of his own health or disease."
I like beer. No, wait. I love beer. There's nothing better than enjoying a nice cold brew outdoors in the warm summer breeze. Throw the wife, dog, nature and some tunes in there and you'll find the happiest man in the world. I have missed beer.  Liquor, however, I don't miss. Actually, when I say liquor I mean soju. I don't miss soju. I've spent four hazy years under the siren's lure of the sauce. It only led to trouble and I'm happy to say that it is out of my boozing repertoire. 

While we're on the topic, I guess I should admit to something else: I'm a binge drinker. I personally never saw it as an issue because I only (binge) drank once a week, but moderation and drinking NEVER overlapped for me. In my college days, I could continue drinking right until the bitter end. Be that as it was, my age has slowly caught up to me and my binging ultimately ends with a plastered husband and an mortified wife. Buddha talked a lot of the "Middle Path" and now I will practice more constraint with the bottle. 

Meat and Fish
"Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little."
I'm not a fan of killing. I mean, there are some people that I wish who were not alive never born, but killing them isn't my job. Let me clarify. People make other people want to kill people. Animals don't make people want to kill animals, so why do they need to die? I hate killing, but let me also clear this up a bit. If I was in a dire situation, I would kill an animal and eat it with no qualms or real hesitation. Survival isn't a pretty game. However, I'm not in a dire situation. There are plenty of options for me out there. (In fact, a new vegetarian and vegan grill just opened in the area and I'm pretty pumped about that.) Land animals can rejoice and rest easy knowing that I will not be eating them. 

Fish, on the other hand, have not broken free from my omnivorous grasp. I'm going to eat them. In fact, I'm going to eat a lot of them on Saturday. Sorry, fish friends, but you're too delicious and healthy for me to pass up. And tuna...I'm coming for you.

Cursing, Yelling and Anger
"You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger."
I used to like to curse, but don't do it too much these days anyways. Yelling is the same. I have yelled in anger less than ten times in my life. My wife made the comment that  Buddhism really wasn't much of a stretch for me in some areas because I never really get verbally angry anyways. She was right, but I do make snide comments and let that "fringe anger" fester for too long. Not anymore, though. Also, the cursing I used to partake in mostly involved "Yahweh"  and "Yeshua", but Catholicism should drive the final stake into that habit (bad choice of words, I know).

Porno and Masturbation
"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways."
No, I don't think masturbation is evil. In fact, I think it's quite pure. I'll write about that as I get into other religions though. For now, I'll keep this one brief. I didn't miss the porn, but my body noticed the lack of, well, attention. I don't want to get into the science of masturbation or offer a Michael Swartz theory on porn. All I will say is that the "Middle Path" should apply here as well. Other than that, South Park offered some sound advice about what too much  porn can do to a man.

"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart."
I loved bowing this month and plan to continue doing it. It was relaxing and tiring all at the same time. It was both therapeutic and stressful, but I managed to keep up with it. As I said towards the beginning of the month, the bowing taught me about patience. It wasn't a simple I need to be more patient kind of thing though. It taught me the joys of patience. When I would start my bowing and slowing make my way up towards 108, I would almost wish for more. As the month progressed, the process of bowing actually slowed down dramatically because I stopped rushing. There was no need to rush. There's never any need to rush.


"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”

This was the most rewarding part of the month. I've already written a lot about it, but let me add just a couple more things. Without meditation, there is no Buddhism. The relationship that I have formed with myself and the connections that have been made between my mind, body and spirit would not have been recognized without meditation. Sometimes they were long and other times they were short. Meditation is one of those things that I will continue to practice for years to come. There's nothing wrong with clarity of the mind, and that is what meditation brought me.

It was difficult at times, but I persevered and overcame the empty stomachs, cravings, sore backs and evenings full of solitary isolation. And I feel great.

Admit it, you didn't think I would be able to complete the month without breaking, did you? I know I didn't.

Tomorrow is a Q & A with the wife. Any questions you want to ask her regarding her month as a Buddhist's wife?


  1. You know, I thought you would do this because you did two big things I thought you would never, stay at UT when your Mom had moved to Oklahoma and two, stay in Korea for almost 4 years! Congratulations for being a month-long Buddhist!

  2. Way to go but not sure that being a Catholic will make you hold your tongue in terms of cursing. Those I have known can take the Lord's name in vain a hundred different ways!

    I admire your perseverance and the lessons you've learned many of which I need to take to heart.

    As for the wife, I guess I would like to know what the most annoying part of this particular spiritual journey was for her.

  3. Well done George. I am puzzled about one thing though. You say you're a feminist and you have a newfound desire not to harm living creatures. I don't see how porn can fit into that. Read some of the psych studies on how watching porn harms men, and the wives of said men, not even to mention the poor women (and men for that matter) involved in making the porn. I mean, fair enough if you have needs to attend to, but does it have to be accomplished via something that objectifies other people? I'm also curious as to what Go thinks about that. And actually what she thinks about you not eating land animals anymore.

  4. Shandi,

    In all fairness, I did say that "I didn't miss the porn". And yeah, there are plenty of ways to take care of such needs that don't involve watching two perfect strangers fornicating. Besides, I've gotta get going on the bible.