Big thoughts

Consider the single thought. A bit of synapse firing in the brain. This could be in response to a need – hunger, thirst, fight or flight. This could be the processing of a sense – smelling a flower, or seeing a rainbow. Maybe it’s working through a complex problem of some kind.

Steven Pressfield, in Do The Work, writes, “I was thirty years old before I had an actual thought. Everything up till them was either what Buddhists call “monkey-mind” chatter or the reflective regurgitation of whatever my parents or teachers said, or whatever I saw on the news or read in a book, or heard somebody rap about, hanging around the street corner.”

Thoughts are precarious, and when big thoughts come, grab them! I don’t know the first actual thought that I had. It’s possible I’m still waiting for it to come along. Sure, I get ideas, but they are just in the semblance of a thought – something half-formed.

So when those ideas pop up, nourish them. Bring them to fruition. And enjoy the freedom of a thinking that is higher-level.

Thanksgiving

It’s been three years since I’ve become a vegetarian. I’m often asked why. No, it’s not because I was chased by a killer turkey.

I had toyed with the idea before. When I was younger, twelve maybe, I tried to go vegetarian. I didn’t receive much support from my family.

But the reason behind it was that I felt guilty for eating an animal that had died just so that I could eat it.

There’s a branch of Buddhism that sends it monks out on pilgrimage. They are graciously welcomed into houses, and allowed to partake of any meal that the family is providing. However, if the family slaughters an animal to celebrate the visiting monk, the pilgrim may not eat of it, as it was killed explicitly for his arrival.

In much the same way, I decline to eat any meat. Of course, no animal was killed expressly for me. Yet, the animal was killed with the intention that someone would purchase and eat it. So I refrain.

It’s easier being a vegetarian now than even ten or fifteen years ago. Beliefs that were on the fringe not so long ago have come to the forefront, and even current fringe beliefs are generally better accepted by the public. So it’s a good time to be a vegetarian.

The A – Word

I’ve been bothered by the news reports concerning abortion bills over the past few weeks. I stand on both sides of the issue – I’m anti-murder in a mostly Buddhist outlook, which includes vegetarianism and opposition to the death penalty. I’m also a strict believer in a woman’s right-to-choose, as we all have inherent rights that others should not impose their beliefs on.

I won’t ask you, beg you, or try to pass legislation so that you can’t eat meat. This is my choice, and I do it a) because I feel it right not to allow an animal to die for my sustenance, and b) it is completely personal to me.

As a personal matter, I would rather abortions not be necessary. As a political matter, it’s not my body – the choice belongs to a woman primarily, and her partner in most cases.

I don’t know that there is an answer to this political quagmire, but I know the current rhetoric is only leading to disaster.

 

The night is dark

Woke up, after many troubled minutes of trying to get to sleep, with only 90 or so minutes of rest. Again, tried sleeping but couldn’t shut down the brain. It sort of rip-rocketed on overload tonight. There’s a familiar feeling in my stomach, one that harkens back to a night spent on my couch in 2004. Oh, the things you remember.

So, after trying to put myself back to sleep for near an hour, I knew it was impossible. I published my website, started writing, and read a little of Steven Pressfield’s War of Art. This month I finish this book, and check it off my reading list.

Why no sleep? Why is the brain disquieted on this dark night? Because the past is real and it isn’t. Though the Buddha teaches that only the present moment exists, the past has a living representation in our mind. When we recall a feeling, be it hurt or love, it isn’t anything external to our self that is causing that feeling. Only our mind.

And control of the mind is one (of the many) aspects of Buddhism I’ve not mastered.

Thus I decided to take the advice of Jim Collins, who said, “And what I’ve learned is I guess two or three things specifically about the sleep process for me. This is just personal. One, the 20-minute rule. If you wake up in the middle of the night and you check the time — first of all, it’s also by the way fun to see if you can guess what time it is, right? But then check the time. And then if you’re not back to sleep in 20 minutes, get up. Go back to the simple work.”