Category Archives: Buddhism

Happy birthday to me, 2015

I had originally thought that they got me a new tattoo in the form of a Dharma Wheel or an Enso, both of which would have been great symbols for me, to go along with my labyrinth.

Turns out, though, that I didn’t have the decisiveness to get a new tattoo yet. But they got me good stuff to feed my spiritual journey! Continue reading

My birthday present 2014

We’re frankly broke this year for my birthday, and I know that Kristen has had a little anxiety about it. We had discussed her getting me a cool case for my phone, but that didn’t happen, due to finances. Fortunately, I had a solution!

I’ve been eye-shopping this little tealight candle holder at work for several weeks. For all that I am a solitary Zen Buddhist, I have a certain veneration for the Medicine Buddha. He’s often pictured as either being blue (lapis lazuli) or having some part that is that color, so this little icon is particularly apropos to my inclinations. He might not be in the typical presentation, but it’s the thought that counts.

For $6.00, it works. 😀

My Medicine Buddha

First, the bad news

The Bad news is…

Things are far from being perfect.

The Good news is…

Things are far from being a disaster.

I saw this post this evening, on a website that I frequent. The particular form is something of a support group for people with depression and other mental disorders, within a sub-culture that I identify with. Considering that I am at a place in life that is “far from being perfect” it was great to be reminded that “things are far from being a disaster” even though we are flying really close to the deck.

Things are really pretty hard right now. But, we’ve got enough to squeak by (more or less) and everybody that can work has work, even if the pay is, well, appallingly small. I’m in school for a new field that has growth opportunity, and moderately good income. I just have to finish the next 18 months or so of education to get the BA, then a job in the field. 

One step at a time.

An hour from everywhere…

Where we live, we’re at least a half an hour from everywhere. Add in a desire to do something that is even a little bit niche and I have to go at least an hour away from home. Video somewhat related. More after the jump.

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Me, my mustache, and relieving suffering…


This is a recent (Aug 2012) picture of me. Pay no attention to the glare in my glasses. or the quality of the image, it came from a webcam.

I took this shortly before I left for my Lodge meeting in August. As you can see, I wear a handlebar mustache. I also wear a bow tie on occasion. I started wearing the handlebar on a whim a little less than a year ago, before I ended up working in retail.

Once I started working in retail, though, I learned something: My mustache makes people happy. More than once, someone has stopped me and said that it makes their day, or that it makes them smile. Little children smile, laugh, and giggle when they see it, whispering to each other and pointing in excitement.

While seeing other people’s happiness at my appearance is great, I can’t help but think that there is more to it than that. The reason, though, is something that ties closely to my faith.

See, I have taken the bodisattva vows. These are four vows that have a large number of rough discrete statements, but the same essence. The version that I follow comes from the Mountain and Rivers Order/Zen Mountain Monastery liturgy book, which is as follows:

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them.

Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.

The Dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.

The Buddha Way is unattainable; I vow to attain it.


Without getting too much into it at this point, I have taken a vow to work toward the relieving of suffering for all beings. This is part of the Bodhisattva ideal, to which I am striving.Just don’t ask my wife how I’m doing on that score, because I’m not doing too great, but it is an ideal.

Anyway. Part of the ideal is to relieve suffering where ever in the world we find it. As a householder, I live in the world and have to temper my goals with the realities of real life and responsibilities. As such, I have noticed that my mustache brings happiness to people that I don’t know and will likely never see again. My koan of the moment is, does this minor creation of happiness equate to the relief of suffering?

I think it does.

What You Ask For

What You Ask For.

We are all responsible for our own actions. With that responsibility comes the possibility to ask for what we truly want. Do you have the courage to ask for what you secretly desire?

Compassion in action

The other night, a young lady (late teens/early twenties) came up to me as I was straightening shelves in the pharmacy section. She seemed nervous and slightly agitated as she addressed me and asked where she could find “You know, pregnancy tests”.

I didn’t just point the way, I led her to the aisle where they were. I don’t know if she was hoping for a positive or a negative test, but that didn’t matter. I remember the day that Kristen came to me and (again in a nervous and agitated manner) informed me that she was pregnant.

It occurred to me that there is probably not something that a man can go through that is as emotionally intense as waiting for a pregnancy test to develop. Regardless of what the result is, her life is not going to stay the same. Assuming that its positive, she’s about to become a mother, perhaps for the first time. On the other hand,  she is about to go through a highly charged discussion with her male counterpart, which may end up with him leaving her in the lurch, or may end up with her having to decide to have an abortion. 

If the test is negative (not pregnant) she may end up having to inform her male counterpart that they are not going to have a baby at this time. The alternative is that she feels like she dodged the proverbial bullet and doesn’t have to deal with either an emotional discussion with him about the fact that he’s going to be a father OR she might have to go through an unsupported pregnancy or have an abortion.

I can’t help but feel my heart swell with compassion for every woman that I see pick up a pregnancy test. I don’t have to know her particular circumstance to know that she’s in for an emotional roller coaster once she gets home. I can’t help but think to myself “I hope that she gets the result that she wants” every time.

Now, I just need to work on bringing that compassion to the rest of my life. That’s a challenge.

Thought for the day

When I started working at Target, I met one of the managers and thought she was a bit of a crank. You know, moderately disagreeable, a bit bitchy, not the sort of person that you really want to get to know. Last night, I learned different.

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