Passionate About Being Compassionate

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was how our neighborhood had a bunch of tight-knit families. All of the parents got along and there was only a minimal amount of drama. Every neighborhood has it’s drama, but no-one is writing a script based on the stuff that went down on Juniper Lane.

As a gregarious cluster we shared lots of meals. Do you remember when eating at your friends house was a thing? You’d either have to run home or ask to use the landline phone to see if your mom was ok with it. One family in particular was very odd to most of us at the time, at least when it came to what they ate. We knew them as vegetarians! Ohh scary right? They had tofu regularly, ate lentil loaf instead of meatloaf. “Why,” we often asked ourselves. “Why would they do that,” we wondered. The food tasted so… ummm… weird and bland to our youthful and finite tastebuds. Continue reading →

I wasn’t going to weigh in on the shooting in Tucson, AZ because… Use your voice like a BIG BOY!!!

I wasn’t going to weigh in on the shooting in Tucson, AZ because everyone and their grandmother are expressing condolences, so what’s one more right? Every expression counts, don’t ever believe your voice need not be heard. Anytime something like this happens we all need to rally with those affected and against those that caused the action, like that dipshit Jared Lee Loughner. Compassion is a strong emotion, with the proper intention compassion can have a great effect. So with genuine sincerity, my condolences, and willful compassion, go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

I wasn’t going to weigh in on the shooting in Tucson, AZ because the blogosphere is already abuzz with enough reaction and commentary. F@%k that! Every single writer, speaker, blogger or whatever you call yourself, you have a voice and it needs to be heard. We cannot be silent when something so heinous happens. We cannot brush it aside as “just another incident, just another loony tunes freak accident, these things happen all the time.”

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Being a Buddhist and Celebrating Christmas

I get a lot of folks asking me, “How can you celebrate Christmas when you are a Buddhist?”

Ever since I can remember, Christmas hasn’t been a religious holiday. Growing up, I was not religious at all. My parents never made us go to church. We did go on occasion, but that was mainly when my brothers and I were curious or bored enough to want to get out of our house and hang out with our friends, at church

We knew what Christmas was supposed to be about, but it was never about that with us. Christmas was the opportunity to gather with friends and family and celebrate our oneness with each other. Our goals were all the same, to make others happy and to see the smiling faces of the youngsters as they opened gifts.

We used to get the neighborhood folks together and go round caroling. We did this not only for our own happiness, because we all loved to do it, but if you saw the smiles we got from people it was as if we had given the the greatest gift. It was a simple gift, didn’t cost a thing, but made an impact.

There has always been a sense of magic this time of year, the belief that if we lived by a certain code we would be rewarded. While that is not a very Buddhist idea, a reward is the last thing we are looking for, but for a child it is everything.

So, how can I celebrate this holiday as a Buddhist? I just summed it up I think, instilling a sense of community and happiness, but let me throw this into the mix. One of the staples of Buddhist practice is compassion and putting others before ourselves.

This year in particular, as with many other people, things are tight. My wife and I have foregone exchanging gifts. The money is just not there this year. But, it really doesn’t matter to us. To be able to do something for someone else is more important.

My wife has been busy baking, while time consuming, it’s not as costly and who doesn’t enjoy a plate of fresh baked, home-made cookies and treats? Simple things like this can have more of an impact on someone’s sense of happiness than that big ticket item, they know that someone put forth the effort to make the cookies with their hands. My wife is phenomenal at baking too, so those that do receive the cookies are in for a real treat.

But I digress, back to the topic at hand. Buddhist or not, Muslim or not, Christian or not, it does not matter. Religion has nothing to do with compassion and happiness. So that’s how I can celebrate this holiday, because to me it’s not about the story of a birth in a manger, it about love and togetherness.

And while there is the burdening overtones of materialism intertwined with the holidays, not making it about ourselves, but about others, is the most important thing to me.

Its a simple post, but it’s boiled down enough that you can see where I’m coming from this time of year. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. May your days be filled with warmth, love and happiness.

Free Hugs? A Worldwide Movement!

Back in 2007 I stumbled on a fantastic video on the Free Hugs movement, original post is here. Until today I didn’t realize just how widespread it was. So what I have done is consolidated as many videos as I could find, into this one post. These videos were the first thing I watched this morning, a good way to start with a smile. So here is what I’ve dug up so far… I’m sure I’m missing some, but you get the scope of how BIG this movement is…

The original Free Hugs video featuring Juan Mann and music by the Sick Puppies “All The Same”

New York City

Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku, Japan

Click to see even more Free Hugs videos

We The Beasts

As you can imagine, being a cable guy I see lots of things. Yesterday I was at a house, in the basement to be specific. I saw a mouse scampering around, not looking all that well and I peered over at the homeowner.

He says to me, “don’t worry, we had a terminator come in, the mouse is dying from the poison.” That was the last thing I was worried about, and a sense of compassion waved over me. Here I was witnessing the worse kind of suffering. The animal was bloated from the poison, walking around in circles, at times falling over onto his little back until gaining a sense of balance again.

The customer than said he was going to get a shovel, I was horrified. As he approached with the shovel I exclaimed that he should not do what I thought he was going to but to give the mouse some sort of dignity and allow him to spend the final moments out in nature. As oxymoronic as this sounds, the customer was kind enough to shovel him up and bring him outside.
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Bus driver delivers free home-cooked meals

Ed. Note: This is a break from the usual “Buddhist” overtone stories but so relevant to the ideals of compassion and loving kindness. The man in the story is an absolute inspiration, I just wanted to share this story with you all!

From CNN

Every day, unemployed men gather under the elevated 7 train in Jackson Heights, Queens. Many of them are homeless. All of them are hungry.

Jorge Munoz estimates he has served more than 70,000 free meals since 2004.

At around 9:30 each night, relief comes in the form of Jorge Munoz’s white pickup truck, filled with hot food, coffee and hot chocolate.

The men eagerly accept containers of chicken and rice from Munoz, devouring the food on the spot. Quiet gratitude radiates from the crowd.

For many, this is their only hot meal of the day; for some, it’s the first food they’ve eaten since last night.

Click to read more of this article

Inspiring Story: Family going around globe to help others survive

From The Post & Courier

Their house is nearly empty, and there’s a “For Sale” sign in the yard.

In the past few months, James and Cara Garcia have sold nearly everything they own, taken the rest to Goodwill or the dump.

They got rid of the BMW just last week.

Now they can fit everything they own into a few suitcases and duffle bags — one each for them and their two daughters.

These are not victims of the recession. This is a family that has found a new purpose in life, and it lies on the far side of the world.

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Encountering Truth

It’s been over three years now since I started studying and practicing the teachings Buddha left behind, the principles of a moral humanity. I often struggle with some of them, but compassion and understanding has been at the heart of what I try to expel in every encounter with another person, no matter how large a scale that encounter may be.

As you may or may not know, I work for a TV cable provider. My job involves a hands on approach with nearly every customer for the work I do each day. Some day it’s just climbing a pole and connecting or disconnecting lines, but for the most part I am in people’s homes trouble shooting issues or installing/ upgrading new services. Of course for some this may take a person out of their comfort zone being in someone elses home, but I am there to do the job I was asked and have no issues with it.

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Mormons well-served by self-reliance in hard times

Reading this at this time in our history, I can only agree that we all need to be more self reliant and also look at the ones that are less prepared than we are for the current times. A few years ago my area was struck by several major hurricanes. I was okay and prepared. I looked out for others in my area that needed help and did my best to assist them. I worked with the county to go to a local retirement community. We went door to door and checked on each resident. Most seemed, okay they were assisting the ones less able to care for themselves.

Whether it is time of natural disasters or man made economic ones, the ones that are prepared should look to the ones that are not and offer assistance.