Dharma Companion

Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 9/28/09 2:40 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 9/29/09 8:09 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 9/30/09 9:10 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Mike John D 9/30/09 3:31 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/1/09 8:13 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/2/09 9:47 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/3/09 12:13 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/5/09 1:28 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/7/09 1:56 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/8/09 8:02 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Chuck Kasmire 10/9/09 2:19 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/10/09 3:04 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Chuck Kasmire 10/11/09 11:42 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/11/09 5:48 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Chuck Kasmire 10/12/09 2:02 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/14/09 1:47 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/14/09 8:22 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/14/09 8:40 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/14/09 9:06 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/14/09 9:42 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/14/09 10:23 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/15/09 3:11 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/16/09 10:24 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Chuck Kasmire 10/16/09 1:18 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/16/09 6:37 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/16/09 3:29 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/12/09 5:09 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/13/09 4:58 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Mark E Defrates 10/9/09 8:15 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/17/09 2:41 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/18/09 7:09 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/21/09 5:15 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/22/09 5:12 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/23/09 12:06 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/23/09 4:18 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/25/09 1:28 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/25/09 2:38 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/26/09 5:56 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 10/29/09 2:39 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/29/09 4:00 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 10/29/09 4:19 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 11/4/09 8:31 AM
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RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 11/11/09 8:16 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 11/18/09 11:52 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 11/19/09 6:21 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Lucinda N Brown 11/19/09 9:11 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 11/20/09 2:15 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Eric Alan Hansen 11/25/09 9:38 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 11/27/09 11:41 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 12/1/09 1:42 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 12/5/09 11:35 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Lucinda N Brown 12/5/09 7:43 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 12/6/09 5:18 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/11/10 11:35 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/12/10 1:44 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/13/10 9:14 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/15/10 3:57 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/18/10 9:48 AM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/20/10 12:44 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/23/10 12:12 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/26/10 11:39 AM
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RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 4/30/10 1:01 PM
RE: Dharma Companion Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke 5/12/10 2:58 PM
RE: Dharma Companion ratanajothi - 5/12/10 7:07 PM
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 9/28/09 2:40 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/28/09 2:40 PM

Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Dharma Companion: Please note the noun is singular. I have read little on this concept. Charlotte Beck makes the statement that other than sesshin, an intimate relationship offers next best opportunity to practice Zen. She then goes on to give some concrete details from her relationship with her partner.

I am here looking for a dharma companion. If more than one person volunteers, I will select one and see how we work out. One such relatonship may be as much as I have time to handle. If the first works out, I may have time for a second. If it doesn’t, I hope there is a second to try it with.

I see the relationship as one of an daily or almost daily exchange focused on practice, especially practice difficulties and failures, but involving an I-thou relationship as well. To me, that means nothing of importance to me or my partner cannot be discussed. That could involve possible violation of some guidelines for this site, but I would hope that would not happen. If it did, I would hope for some lenience, an allowance for a demonstration of a form of practice perhaps not considered when the guidelines were formulated. Comments by others in our topic would be welcome, but I would respond only to my partner.

I would try to post once daily. I would spend some time writing carefully and thoughtfully,would not just dash something off to fulfill my practice commitment to my partner. I would expect the same of him/her.

My profile gives a bit more information for anyone who might volunteer. See Attainments
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 9/29/09 8:09 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/29/09 8:09 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty 1(9/29:09): an example of how I plan to post here. Let’s see, how did I practice today. I did 18” of formal breathing meditation while lying down. Most of the time I focused narrowly on all the details of each breath. There are so many details, of course, that I find it impossible to be aware of all of them. What I experience is a extremely rapid series of “takes” of instants or moments of each breath. The rapidity of these fits somewhat with neurological findings. The question of what is a moment or instant has been argued in Buddhist literature, “How many moments or instants are there is a clock second?” Neurology has its answer, some Buddhists suggest there are as many as 84,000 moments in one clock second. Anyone believe that?

I was surprised to recognize a bit of physical tension when I relaxed from concentration on my breaths. I must have been concentrating too hard. A relaxed total alertness or awareness is my goal.

What else? I was using Tarthang Tulku’s suggestion of breathing thru both nose and slightly opened mouth. I found this a bit hard to get used to, but I do find it useful. Exhaling completely, slowly, almost as if one were heaving a sigh along with a “Whew” of relief helps with physical relaxation. There are so many suggestions of the correct way even for simple breathing meditation. I have tried various ones, and am still open to trying others as I run across them.

I wonder if a dharma companion might be using one I’ve never heard of. I wonder if there will be a dharma companion there when I post this.

An almost daily post of this length will be one of my practices for a while, and I hope someone volunteers to post along with me. Almost a page.

9/30/09: That’s pretty dull, Rusty. Not going to interest anyone. Let’s see. What do I want here? I want a single listener/reader who will respond in kind. Someone willing to make themselves known to me (and whoever else happens to read our posts) as well as make some efforts to know me. And I’ll be doing the same.

I do not enjoy shooting an arrow into the air, not knowing where the hell it’s going to fall. I want to do targeted writing for one individual, and if it happens to be of benefit to someone else or interest them, that’s the gravy on the cake. (OK, 416 words, should our posts be about the length of my freshman English assignments in college, partner? Where’d I go to college? Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.)
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 9/30/09 9:10 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/30/09 9:10 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty 2---9/30/09: Dharma companion had 39 views when I posted Rusty 1, but no volunteers. I do wish the list of members would become available. Daniel, what’s the problem with that?

Well, I’ll address you, Daniel, in the absence of a dharma buddy volunteering. I know a bit about you. Thanks for your help in my getting started here. But I did note that you did not respond to my question of whether you do any of the many “slow down” practices during your day. I’m sure you are far too busy and hurried to qualify as a dharma companion for me. I have a few manic genes myself, and do find a number of “slow down” practices helpful. They are different than “dead stop” practices like sitting meditation. If you, or anyone else who happens to read this is interested in “slow downs,” Tarthang Tulku’s TIBETAN RELAXATION has loads of them that can be adapted to fit one’s personal needs.

R. L. Stevenson wrote that 10 minutes of anyone’s experience, if completely described would occupy more books than had been printed. Don’t know whether he adds “to date” or not. Certainly 10” of my experience of sitting in a lounge chair in my living room, looking out the large windows facing slightly S of E, could occupy a full length novel or more. Does sitting watching a sunrise qualify as meditation for you, unknown dharma buddy? Are you a sunrise watcher, or perhaps you watch sunsets?

I really like sunsets better, having watched them since childhood, and for years I had the pleasure of watching them from either of the two houses I lived in and helped in constructing in Placitas, NM. Outside those 2 houses are my 2 best sunset watching spots in my world---the world as I have experienced it.

Well, I’m going to say it eventually. I create my own world. It’s a wonderful world. It’s like the childhood poem, from RLS?, “The world is so full of such wonderful thngs, I think we all should be happy as kings.” I suspect that kings especially, like most of the world, are unhappy a lot. At least if Buddha’s first noble truth is really true, that is the case.

That is it for the moment, unkown dharma companion. As you see, I feel free to ramble a bit in our conversation. Do you like to write more concisely and to the point? Often a rambling conversation is the best way to get acquainted. Is that too many questions for you to answer in one post? It’s perfectly all right with me to ignore questions I ask. If they’re important to me I’ll ask again…

Later: a 22” flat meditation around 5PM. One of the many ways I practiced today.

Next morning: Toni, my wife and I, are going out for breakfast. I just finished supervising her taking morning pills. Pill duty occurs every 4 hours. But I’ll post this, hoping for a better response than so far.
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Mike John D, modified 12 Years ago at 9/30/09 3:31 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/30/09 3:26 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 22 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
These are good posts Albert, and the "Dharma Companion" is a great idea; I don't feel up to the commitment personally though.

But keep at it. I find there is a lot of good in just posting here and getting responses. It's like being in a rock tumbler; if you just put one rock in the tumbler all by itself it could cycle around endlessly and never change, but if you toss in a handful of rocks they'll crash up against eachother over and over and eventually become polished. -If the thread has "39" views, don't think your in it alone.

Round n' round we go!
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/1/09 8:13 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/1/09 8:13 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
9/30/09---Rusty3: No replies when I posted Rusty2 this morning. So here goes with another message to an unknown dharma buddy. Sure would be nice to know who I’m talking to! As I think I said in Rusty1, I welcome any comments on me or my potential friend’s posts, but make no commitment to reply to any but my buddy’s. Obvously I remain free to do so should I want to.

A brief episode, call it a moment, in my life. It may have lasted 5 breaths. But first some background. Most days my dog Spike and I take a short walk, not much longer than time for him to do a regular morning job. He is always eager, even anxious, and anticipating enthusiastically this outing.

During the first breath, I pick up the leash and put on a sun hat. With the second breath I walk to the back of the sofa and wait for Spike to jump on the back of the sofa so I can carefully leash him without bending this old arthritic body. Sometimes, but not often, I have to tell him to “jump up.“ With the third or fourth breath I am carefully fastening his leash to his collar. And with the fifth I sometimes say “Let’s go.”

I could go into greater detail, but that may be enough for our purposes, old buddy. The question, Was that brief episode from my life an enlightened moment? Yes? No? I don’t know? And I would like you to justify your answer. Or you can ask for more details and information about what went on in those 5 breaths. Me I’ll probably know about, and I do have what I considered shrewd guesses about what goes on with Spike during these repetitive 5 breath episodes in my and his life.

I have my answers to the question and my justifications for my answer. I won’t share them until I have an/some answers to the question with justifications……

Later, a regular question in our correspondence, dharma buddy, is “how did you/I practice today?\” I have found in regular posting on another site that answering that question with a specific helps keep my practice on track.

I did a formal 30” lying flat meditation a short while ago. After 3 deep breaths and counting 21 breaths, counting on the inhalation, I went into naming people I know while breathing in, and silently repeating part of a Buddhst prayer that goes, “May you be forever connected with happiness and the sources of happiness.” With people I know have rather severe alcoholic problems, I changed it to “May you forever be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.”

Not a bad practice at all, and it does help, I hope, a failing and aging memory remember the names of people I know. I missed on a few and then asked my wife to help me recall those names.

Next morning, 7:07AM: 49 views and 1 reply since yesterday’s post. Thanks John, or do you prefer being called something else?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/2/09 9:47 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/2/09 9:47 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty4---I hope my dharma buddy, assuming I find one here, will do as I just did and head his posts with his name and the number of his post.

Another episode of my life, with the question, “Is this an enlightened episode, why, why not?”

Background. My wife is in home hospice. Despite that I am the primary caregiver. Toni appeared much worse this morning. While supervising her morning pill taking, we talked about the date, Oct 1. Toni said, “This is our anniversary.”

Quick shift of scene, Rusty walking toward the microwave to make Toni some morning mocha. Suddenly he bursts into sobs. Sits sobbing on a chair in the kitchen for as long as director of this film thinks that will hold the audience’s attention. Toni walks into kitchen asking, “What’s wrong, Rusty?” Muffled answer, thru sobs “Nothing, don’t worry about it, I’m just crying, go back and lay down.”

At first I was thinking, “How the hell can we manage a celebration with Toni in such poor shape?” And a second triggered the sobbing, “This probably is the last anniversary we’ll ever celebrate.”

After a considerable time sobbing, drinking tea, washing my face in cold water a couple times, I managed to explain the sobbing to Toni as anticipatory grieving, approximately as in the above 2 paragraphs. We talked further about it, including a statement from Toni that she had had a similar episode a couple months ago.

That’s a much more complicated episode than getting the leash on Spike. I’m sure there must be topics here in which enlightenment is discussed quite abstractly, and, I would hope, quite concretely. Judging the enlightened, and the unenlightened parts of this episode should be much easier than answering the big general question, “What is enlightenment?”

So go at it, unknown dharma pal. And anyone else is welcome to post replies as well.

Later: two clearly unenlightened anger episodes this afternoon. My belief is that any anger is unenlightened, for the simple reason it almost if nt always makes the situation worse for at least some and usually all in the situation.

Just before I post this, 30 views since I posted yesterday’s. I did a 26” flat meditation yesterday, interrupted by a phone call. We have guests coming today who will probably be here into Monday. That may interfere with my regular posting. I am a bit disappointed at no replies to my question, pero c’est la vie…
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/3/09 12:13 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/3/09 12:13 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty5: Toni: “It takes so little to make some people happy.” Rusty: “Yeah, ain’t I fortunate. That’s TCJOB for you.” In case some of you have forgotten, TCfJOB is an acronym for “the causeless joy of being.” I bought a book, THE JOY OF BEING,” by a Tibetan rinpoche to see if TCJOB was anything like his joy of being as “the happiest man in the world.” Well, there’s overlap at least. Good book, I’ve recommended it to a number of people.

I’ve also checked TCJOB and my daily practice against Alan Wallace’s GENUINE HAPPINESS, another book I recommend. Not as clear, Wallace’s presentation, esp. when combined with his book on focused attention is much more complicated. 9 stages of practice rather than just 3. While I use GENUINE HAPPINESS periodically, read it and try his suggestions on for size, I really am unsure of the amount of overlap between my practices and what he recommends. He focuses far more on formal meditation than I do in my practice.

Have you read any of those 3 books, dharma pal? If so, what’d you think of them?

Does reading interfere with practice, or is it practice? Does my writing this interfere with my practice, or is it a part of my practice.? I opt for the latter on the second question. I could call on authority for that opt. Natalie ?Goldman?” says she got advice from her roshi---Katagiri---to make her writing her practice. She has done so very successfully pubishing a number of books as well as teaching courses on writing. Or I could justify the opt myself at some length. But I’m not in a justifying mood at the moment…

Company arrived. 3 guests here, but I can take time to post this.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/5/09 1:28 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/5/09 1:28 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty6---At the moment I seem to be working more on Part III of Wallace’s book GENUINE HAPPINESS. I’ve kind of smooshed all three chapters together and do my own variations, rewording, etc. as appeals to me at the moment. Part III is titled CULTIVATING A GOOD HEART. What I described previously about one of my flat meditations is one of my versions.

I have seen a discussion area here where people discuss their experiences with practicing and others comment on it. I suppose I should take my experiences of leashng Spike and my anticipatory grieving for Toni and our discussing it there to get some responses. I won’t, however, because I don’t want to run all over this place. I want to keep my posting here as compact, simple, and efficient as possible. I may go to that forum and see if anyone posting there is willing to come here and read and comment on thse experiences.

I find it hard to identify with John Mike’s analogy of rocks being smoothed in a tumbler. Sounds very confining, painful, gritty etc. I thought of changing the analogy to I and my potential dharma pal being precious stones, gently and with great care cutting, polishing and faceting each other. But that struck me as a bit painful too.

Had no chance to write or post yesterday. Peeked and no replies among the 27 viewers since I last looked. New friend, you’re still out there somewhere. So, do you do any mantra practice, or count beads, etc.? Koan practice is much like mantra or counting beads, just variations on the same theme. If I do mantra, I make up my own, in English. Like ths one I’ve been doing in relation to care giving for Toni who gets angry with me with some frequency during my caring for her. It’s a 3 breath mantra, with the commas separating the inhalations and exhalations: Meet anger, with silence, consider, your role, deliberate, response. Deliberate is a pronunciation pun, different meanings whether you ate or where you’re at.

This may even be a good mantra for many people to use, esp. those who have a habit of meeting anger with anger. What sayest thou, new friend?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/7/09 1:56 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/7/09 1:56 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty7---No replies when I looked just now. Some interest in reading these posts of mine, but not enough to comment, discuss, compare, suggest, etc. Although it looks like I won’t find a dharma companion in dharmaoverground, I would welcome some of the people who view what I write posting replies. It could give me some hints as to how to post more appropriately. Meanwhile I will continue shooting arrows into the air even though I know nothing of where they land.

Toni seems much worse, and caring for her is consuming more of my time. A case conference with the hospice people is coming up some time this week. I am very thankful for my years of various kinds of practice. They are helping me cope with a quite difficult situation.

I wonder a bit whether various gurus could cope nearly as well. They are so used to having people surrounding them and doing things for them, they might have a lot of difficulty with a continuing real life situation like a spouse’s dying process. See AFTER ZEN for some stories of how well Zen masters and advanced students cope with what the rest of us do every day.

Yesterday I got out and had coffee at Border’s leaving Toni’s brother and his wife to cope with anything that came up with Toni. There I engaged in a regular practice of mine, “Talking with Strangers.” This includes looking at strangers and smiling at them. I can describe this practice in far more detail, but I’ll wait for a question on it to be sure it might interest someone.

I regularly practice “enlightened driving” as well, and would be willing to describe that and answer questions about it. Some feedback from someone interested is a requisite in all these things. First question for anyone to answer before even attempting enlightened driving is “how tense are you while driving?” That means paying attention to the tension and discomfort in your body while at the same time paying attention to your driving. Cell phone use or texting might be an overload---driving and your bodily feelings is more than enough to pay attention to.

2 days ago since I posted. Toni’s condition currently is such that I am doing full time nursing duty without nursing assistants, and at times recently hospice can be more trouble than they’re worth. Handling staff probems of hospice personnel shouldn’t be Toni’s and my job, but at times it is. I won’t go into detail at all since that would only arouse some anger, and as I said previously, I think that anger never helps either the person making him/herself angry nor anyone else in the situation. OK, I’ll leave dispensing more wisdom, if what I’m writing here is such, til later. Now to post. Come on some of you viewers out there. Am I such a difficult person to respond to that none of you even dare posting a comment here?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/8/09 8:02 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/8/09 8:02 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty 8: Only one reply to 8 posts, but a number of views. I was told this was an active site, but I’m sure not finding it active for my purposes. I wonder if I’m scaring people off. I’m old, and my wife is in the dying process. That scares a lot of people. Could it be that people on this website are also afraid to look at dying and try to stay as far away from the idea of death as possible, potential friend? Or even just someone viewing who has an opinion?

I’ve looked around the website a little. So far have not run across a female name. Are there any female members? The term “hardcore” certainly might turn women off to this site---too close to hardcore porn. Women prefer softcore porn. Was the choice of terminology that would turn women off to the site deliberate? Or just accidental?

More than enough questions, since noone here so far seems inclined to answer questions. So I’ll talk of another practice of mine briefly, just in case someone might show some interest. My term for it is “practicing dying.” It can be done most any time but one of the various formal meditation postures probably works best. If anyone shows any interest, I’ll be glad to give details…

One of my simplest practices derives from one of Evans-Wentz books on Tibetan Buddhism. That’s way back, and so is a saying, “A perfected yoga is aware of every breath.” I doubt I’ll ever be aware of every breath, I sleep too soundly for one thing. And I don’t know what a perfected yoga is, but I suppose it’s like being a completely enlightened being or some such. Evans-Wentz writes of new monks being instructed to count every breath from the time they wake until they fall asleep. There is a lot to learn from either of these practices, both of them, or any variations of them anyone might think up.

Trying to be aware of every breath certainly does help keep one in the here and now. It makes a great adjunct to the practice of all day mindfulness.

Do you use any of these practices, dharma companion? How do they work for you? These questions I am posing not only for a potential dharma companion, but for anyone who wants to take a shot, or some shots, at them. It keeps getting clearer and clearer that my hopes of finding a dharma companion on this website are likely to be disappointed. C’est la vie. I will keep posting for a while longer. How long is a while longer? Damned if I know. That’s about as indefinite as I can manage.

Later: 5 people here “helping” today, not all of them actually helpful. 4 of the 5 were, and one was massively unhelpful. So I’m a bit exhausted. I’ll post anyway. 19 views, no replies as I post.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 10/9/09 2:19 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/9/09 2:19 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Rusty,
I found your earlier requirements a bit too stringent for what I could commit to. As you now seem to be accepting 'one nighters', thought I would go for it.

“I’m old, and my wife is in the dying process. That scares a lot of people”
- yes, I think this is true. We are (as a culture) quite good at hiding this simple fact of life. Buddha put a great deal of emphasis on contemplating death and this topic is largely missing from DhO conversations (interestingly, Metta practice is also largely missing).

It would be interesting to start a conversation around death. Actually, I guess you already have!

I have not had to deal with this in my immediate experience but within the past 10 years have watched both my Father and younger sister go through this process. Seeing someone, that has been close to you, go through this process and at some point – there they are: a body – is a powerful experience.

“I wonder a bit whether various gurus could cope nearly as well. They are so used to having people surrounding them and doing things for them, they might have a lot of difficulty with a continuing real life situation like a spouse’s dying process.”

- good point. Though I have not had do deal with the same situation as you, my experience is that in this type of situation our mind just wants to get away – but the demands of the moment give us no break. It is a practice with a near vertical learning curve.

“I engaged in a regular practice of mine, 'Talking with Strangers.'”
-OK, I'm game – what is it?

-Chuck
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Mark E Defrates, modified 12 Years ago at 10/9/09 8:15 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/9/09 8:15 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 4 Join Date: 9/7/09 Recent Posts
Hello Rusty:

I'll give it a go. I'm not as old as you are but I'm not young. I can tell you, at least, why I did not respond to your posts earlier than this, though I have read and thought about, and discussed with my wife, most of them. Here are a couple of reasons I have not responded sooner. Don't take them as criticisms or even as requests that you change the way you post. They're not.

You began this thread with an unusual proposition, a request for a dharma companion. I actually had never heard this term before you used it (and I've been a Buddhist for 33 years) but I understood what you wanted and I, like, I expect many of your other readers (which is considerably more than your count) did not imagine myself to be what you were seeking. DhO is a discussion board. People tend to pile in to whatever interests them but a one to one format it really is not.

You have a non standard view of practice. Though there are plenty of other traditions on DhO the general thrust is Vipassana and even more so a particular form of this with its roots in the noting tradition of Mahasi Sayadow, explicated by Kenneth Folk and here by Daniel Ingram, whose work is available online. Now I'm not of this tradition but even from my eclectic background some of what you wrote was difficult to understand. I have no doubt that you can have an enlightenment experience putting your leash on your dog. Ananda achieved arhatship as he was moving from standing to lying down on his bed. But you do realize this is a non standard approach to practice and difficult without considerably more explication for most to understand.

I like your posts. I think your descriptions of how you are attempting to use Buddhist techniques to deal with your wife's dying process are very valuable. If I outlive my wife it might happen to me. If I do I'll think of you. That's a pretty big gift you may already have given me.

Are you scaring people off? Probably not as much as being so different in the way that you post that many of your readers are not sure how to reply. Don't worry about it. Keep posting. Your readers will figure out how to respond or they won't. In the meantime I assume you're getting something out of posting. I certainly am getitng something out of them.

I'd be careful about Evans-Wentz. He's not considered to be a reliable authority any more, especially since the Tibetan diaspora has given us accurate views on both Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism that weren't really available to him back then. Even so I've used his White Lotus Meditation (Ah-Na-Ta-Ra) for many years to induce dreamless sleep.

Mark
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/10/09 3:04 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/10/09 3:04 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty 9: Thanks, Chuck and Mark for your responses. I loved your one night stand idea, Chuck. And since your post is before Mark’s, I’ll respond to it first. I do have in mind that one night stands at times turn into much longer relatiosnips. Have you ever had a one night stand, Chuck? Here answering is not necessary, but in a private setting, dharma companions could back and forth Q&As on any subject quite freely.

Not counting professionals when I was very young, I never have. A two night stand after an Esalen one week meditation program with Claudio Naranjo in ‘71 or ‘72 did result in an exchange of 6-10 snail mails. Naranjo led the program, it was a lady I met there I had the 2 nighter with. Sex and love is about relationships and certainly fits in this category. As does death of relationships, whether the partners one, both or neither survive the end of the relationship.

Memento morii is an excellent practice I think, and have done variations of it for years. And I’ve wondered if that Latin really translates as “I remember I will die,” rather than the abstract “Remember death” which I have seen as a translation. Perhaps the translators were distancing death by making it impersonal and abstract, rather than personal and up close. That’s where I think it should be, not a distant abstraction. It is every day and close for everyone of us, despite our cultures efforts to put it in the closet. Your thoughts, Chuck?

I think throwing in foreign words whether Latin, Tibetan, Japanese, or Sanskrit, pretty generally fails in the alleged purpose of having readers get a concept that is “untranslatable.” Introducing zazen, satori, etc. into English, and they are there now, I think has added absolutely nothing to my or any English readers understanding of how to sit in meditation. Agree, Chuck, disagree, or no comment?

Not quite a vertical learning curve, Chuck. My experience so far is that I learn, unlearn, and that the situation changes so rapidly with Toni all I can do is try to respond to the immediate situation without increasing her suffering. Oops, she’s moaning---be back. Another panty change. She can still walk to the toilet. I am going to need more help soon. Right now I am doing all the care, cooking, etc. A good neighbor is getting a grocery list for me today. I managed listening to her moan, “Oh God, let me die” to a god she didn’t/doesn’t? believe in without the fainest onset of tears! The hospice seems totally unable to manage Toni’s extremely severe pain while urinating and since about 9 this AM, this has been an especially bad day.

About my usual length, Chuck. I will detail a bit about “Talking with Strangers” in my next. Depending on when, and if, Chuck replies to the above, I may or may not get around to yours, Mark. Dharma companions, even in the first, perhaps the only, stages of a relationhip get my attention first.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 10/11/09 11:42 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/11/09 11:42 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

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“[Death] is every day and close for everyone of us, despite our cultures efforts to put it in the closet. Your thoughts, Chuck? “

-Kind of got me thinking, can an inchworm accept the possibility that its next landing point may not exist? I don't think so. It would have to be an ever receding possibility at best.

“I think throwing in foreign words whether Latin, Tibetan, Japanese, or Sanskrit, pretty generally fails in the alleged purpose of having readers get a concept that is “untranslatable.” Introducing zazen, satori, etc. into English, and they are there now, I think has added absolutely nothing to my or any English readers understanding of how to sit in meditation. Agree, Chuck, disagree, or no comment?”

We translate them anyway. Trying to find the essential within 2500 year old translated texts is not the easiest task. We need our own contemporary discourses. Speaking of which, I have to explain my tardiness of response: I was making some extra room in my tent for your friend Claudio (nice site by the way). Anywhere you want to go with that Rusty?

“all I can do is try to respond to the immediate situation without increasing her suffering.”
- thanks, good point.

One night stands – never had one.

-Chuck
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/11/09 5:48 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/11/09 5:48 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty10---Chuck, you sounded willing, and perhaps even interested, in my writing about the practice of “Talking with Strangers.” The first step comes from Thich Naht Hahn, perhaps from his book, THE MIRACLE OF MINDFULNESS. Something like, “Wear or go back to wearing a half smile at all times.” For me that means split attention: breathing and a feeling of a half smile on my lips. Like my father wore much of the time.

It also is a good idea to start practicing by looking at your face with some frequency and evaluating how you might look to other people. Smile at yourself, tell your mirror image what you see. Is that genuine smile or a phony one like politicians wear? Be honest. Don’t lie to yourself.

Next step: when you’re pretty sure your smile is a genuine and friendly looking one, start smiling at every one you meet, and look at their face as you do so. Everyone may not be possible on a busy sidewalk in N. Y. city, but do your best. Evaluate their responses to your smile---get some feedback. Here in Albuquerque and environs I get a return smile up to 60-70% of the time. In the small Iowa town where I grew up, it might be 100% on most days.

In looking at their faces, become aware of how much suffering you might be seeing---tension, anger, distraction from the present moment, etc. This practice is becoming aware of Buddha’s first noble truth. I think there is a specific Theravadan practice on this in which the words “in yourself, in others” occur in alternation if I recall right. Someone here surely could give a specific quote on this practice. Perhaps you, Chuck.

Finally, we get to talking with strangers. If you haven’t done the practices outlined above, I don’t recommending jumping right into talking with strangers. Start with simple hellos, how are yous, all the conventional, meaningless stuff people say to each other. Be satisfied with that, but, perhaps to your surprise, a conversation may develop. Be as aware as you can of what’s going on with the other person. See if you can really turn them on, get them talking about their life, their interests. You may even find a dharma companion, but so far, I haven’t.

I wrote the above mostly in imperative mode. This is the kind of stuff I tell myself to keep me on track in the old Buddhist practice of “talking with strangers.” I haven’t run into it in the literature…yet, but perhaps someone reading this has. Have you, Chuck? Did the above interest you, Chuck? Or more accurately, did you interest yourself in what I just wrote? Interest is a personal function, it doesn’t reside out there.

Re, your apology for being slow in answering my previous post, Chuck:
My inference from that is that you are living in a hurry up mode much of the time. Correct? Incorrect? If my inference is correct, we might talk about “slow down” meditations and practices. Maybe you’d even want to try some. I use them frequently.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 10/12/09 2:02 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion

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Hi Rusty,

Some reflection on the mirror practice: Interesting. So far only done a couple of mirror sessions. One of those things you just have to do to get a sense of it. As for the 'talking with strangers' part: I have been doing a practice that has some elements of yours – on my walks I try to stay very present with sensations as people approach – often there is a 'closing' sensation or energy and there are also judgments (he's fat, she's pretty, that kind of chatter stuff). So today I added the 'looking for suffering' element. Interesting shift but I think I will hold off on discussing that until I practice with it a bit more.

“Did the above interest you, Chuck? Or more accurately, did you interest yourself in what I just wrote? Interest is a personal function, it doesn’t reside out there.”
I get confused on that these days – the in here, out there stuff. After all, weren't you interested in interesting someone? Why? Is your interest separate from mine? 'Thicket of views' I think Buddha would call that one – so maybe you don't want to pick that one up. Still, if it interests you...

“Re, your apology for being slow in answering my previous post”
None intended actually – I was just acknowledging what I was feeling at the time. Nevertheless, it (hurry up mode) is a worthy dharma topic. I remember back in the old days, before all the weirdness began (this would be about 15 years ago) – anyway, I remember living 'hurry up mode' – the interesting thing is that other than feeling stressed and tired – I don't think I felt like I was in that mode. Kind of like if your are blowing along with a wind then you don't notice the wind.

Now days, I do notice the wind. Sometimes a gust catches me for a while. Now I do know that the wind is a 'personal function' as you say but as I mentioned with regards to 'interest' – such terms can be problematic.

Any 'slow down' practices come to mind? - I suspect there is a mutual if not collective interest in the topic.

One 'slow down' practice I do is baking bread. I do that once a week. But I am not sure if I bake it to slow down or if I bake it because I slowed down. In any case, it tastes good – grinding up half in orange (seedless) into the liquid works nicely. Actually, I think it isn't so much a 'slow down' practice as it is a 'everything has its own kneads' practice.

-Chuck
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/12/09 5:09 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/12/09 5:09 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty11: No response (yet) to my “Talking with Strangers” post. I could continue with that, but I’ll answer your last first, Chuck. I love your inchworm image. It’s a perfect one for how I was practicing when I first ran onto TCJOB. I can’t read an inchworm’s psych, or anyone’s but my own, but I can assure you I try to stay with the idea that each breath might be my last. In the specific “practicing dying” practice that led me to TCJOB, at the end of each exhalation, I would deliberately wait until my body told me (went ahead and did it on its own is more accurate) to inhale again. I kept in mind that realistically (although the odds so far have proved infitesimal) that a stroke, or heart attack--I’ve had one---or a meteor or hydrogen bomb could make that breath my very last. Very trustworthy body, takes care of my oxygen needs and all kind of other stuff, whether I pay attention to a particular function or not.

On “Talking with Strangers” I left out the reference for the looking in the mirror practice. It’s Targthang Tulku, from his TIBETAN MEDITATION, I think. (Piss stop, 6th time changing Toni’s panties since 8;15 and it’s high noon now.) Not bad, Zen reference for the paragraph 1, Tibetan for #2, and Theravadan for third part of getting started talking with strangers. Could it be there’s a lot of eclecticism to my practice? That I lack faith in any one god, guru, saint, author?

Claudio…could it be he’s still alive? All I know of him is one Esalen workshop and his book THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MEDITATION. I have a favorite quote from there that I keep changing to fit where I am or what my current views are. At that time, as a Chilean psychiatrist, he believed strongly in a self, perhaps even Freudian or Sullivanian ego theory. I wonder if his views have changed as mine have, or is he sticking to the same page or pages he was on in the early 70’s? When I have time I may check the website you mentioned. Chuck. Thanks.

In talking with strangers, I frequently do it in the religious book section of Borders or Barnes and Noble, or the same area of the library. An amusing conversation in front of Border’s Eastern Religions section. Two guys, 40ish. Rusty (pointing) “Either of you interested in this stuff?” Yeah. “Do you belong to any religious organization?” Mike: I’m a Jubu. “You, Tom?” I’m a Christian. “What the hell is a Jubu? Mike: A Jewish Buddhist. “Oh, I’m a Nobu.” What’s that? “A Norwegian Buddhist.” Later I thought I might be a Lubu, Lutheran Buddhst, and when I related the above to MJ, my very good female friend, she replied that she was a Habu, since she has no guru and belongs to no Buddhst organizations, and most Buddhists believe both are required to really be a Buddhst. Oh, half-assed Buddhist.

No questions this time, Chuck. If you really want some to answer, go back to my previous posts. Bye for now, 2 nighter dharma buddy.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/13/09 4:58 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/13/09 4:58 PM

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Hi Rusty - How's it going?

I'm habu too - nice quote.

Busy as hell, but I do read your posts

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h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 1:47 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 1:47 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Busy two days since my last, Chuck. Yesterday big hospice case conference on Toni and me. 11 people in our living room. Went satisfactorily, and we’re getting rid of a nurse I couldn’t work with. Then Toni fell last night and another big hullabaloo with our local fire rescue unit who are getting to know us pretty well.

Thanks, Mark, for your additional post, and Eric, I couldn’t locate your post in Dharma Companion. That’s the only thread I look at. Could it have wandered elsewhere or just not appeared yet?

Overall, Chuck, your last certainly brought a smile to my lips. On my interest in interesting others---all writers even us amateurs do, and probably all of us continue thru life with the “Mama look at me” operating quite strongly. Though there are other reasons to try to communicate, this may be the core one.

On where interest lies, in here or out there, Krishnamurti answers the question in one of his book titles. YOU ARE THE WORLD. Presumably he experiences that way, perhaps all the time, surely more of the time than I do.

Western culture pretty much insists that experiencing yourself as the world is either impossible or psychotic. I have come to regard it as an indication of really healthy positive functioning. Feeling that you create your own world is also regarded negatively in our culture, terribly neurotic and unrealistic at best. I believe that the more I am aware of all the ways I create my world the better.

On your wind, blowing you along in hurry up mode some years ago and your not noticing it, Chuck: Few people, I think, notice their own habits. They just feel “natural” and a part of themselves. Even when other people look at them askance and consider the habits outrageous. But most people don’t notice that and other people that much either. To generalize broadly, most people just don’t pay attention, to themselves, their own behavior, feelings and thoughts, but go thru life tuned out and end up saying when old “Where did it all go, it seems only yesterday I was in grade school or high school?” If they had only paid attention, their days in HS would seem centuries ago. I guess I’m saying that unless you really pay attention, stay alert every moment, your life will pass you by without your even noticing. Buddha, the awakened one, is rumored to have lived many, many lives. My suspicion is that they all occurred during the few years we believe he resided on this earth. Could anyone really live that completely and intensely, interest themselves that much, and still stay relaxed?

Four interruptions of various lengths while writing this. That must mean it’s time to stop. I’m looking forward to your next, good friend and to and to any comments from others.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 8:22 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty: Since you welcome asides, sub commentary from bystanders, I thought I would reply somewhat. In reference to talking to strangers I ask as many people I see each day in the form of a greeting "How's it going?" and usually point 3-4 four fingers in the air - a kind of stylized wave - sometimes people are insulted by this greeting as it is less than what they expect, others are surprised because it is more than what they expect, others are offended because I spoke to them unbidden. Those who know me well realize it is only in my arcane sense of humor that doing this makes sense, and still others don't even blink and use the opportunity to tell me how it is going. It is also economical because it becomes un-selfconscious on my part. Okay Rusty you offer ideas on self, good, bad? What do you think?

I think I know what you are asking in your request for a dharma companion. I have been a part of several online communities, not just on these topics but others as well. There are some curious dynamics to online behavior, herd instincts, "voting" people on or off the island, hiding behind the owner or moderator of the site, bait and switch, trolling, spamming, and last but not least, posting a question when you really don't want to hear the answer. I would say 90% of advice sites revolve around this behavior. Typically this kind of question is asked by a person who remains unsatisfied until they get the answer they were already looking for. Then when they do get the answer they have a fall guy who's to blame when the answer they were looking for, being the only one they listen to, doesn't work out. Some one to blame. Advice sites, like this one, are mostly about blame. And by and large most questioners don't really listen. So by crafting your specific request you have avoided all these pitfalls, and sure enough you have been around the block more than once. If you can quote Buber's I/Thou and went to Esalen to hear Claudio, you are probably aware of these kinds of behaviors and dynamics. - end of part 1.
h a n s e n
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 8:40 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 8:40 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty - you can find out more about me at my blog sites, one for pottery, americanpotter,blogspot.com one for cooking hansencookbook.blogspot.com and one for bubbhist posts, thesuddenschool.blogspot.com - but mostly I stay busy working on newspaper printing presses and cooking for my wife, who commutes in and out of D.C. which with her work day totals about 12 hours. I work bankers hours 9-5 (9PM to 5AM) printing USA Today and New York Times. You have probably seen short clips of newspaper presses in the movies. Recently I have discovered this site and due to my lack of connections to the local community (other than other printers on the night shift) I try to stay in touch with people according to my artistic and faith community inclinations, again, in a Rusty-oriented way, what M.C. Richards called that which is in accord with my self. I am not a Mahasi-style-noter however but feel welcome here despite the obvious fact that many of the conversations revolve around those practices. I feel compelled to hang in there out of what I call "the obligation of the cured" even though I don't consider my self quite cured yet. Logically I feel this is true however.

I am a non-dominate cerebral hemisphere user. I always have been. In a way I am one of those rare and fortunate beings who almost from birth got hard-wired, in terms of mental processing, differently. Unfortunately this has been a bit of a handicap as well. These are are among the forces that push me towards liberation, life to me is often an unmanageable problem and that is the only solution I can locate.
end of part 2 -
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 9:06 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 9:06 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty - So I called in sick to work tonite, (lllloooonnnnggggg story) and felt there was unfinished business at the DhO which lead to the 3rd or 4th review of the site in the last 24 hrs which brought me here to this RE: Dharma Companion thread:

>Dharma Companion: Please note the noun is singular. I have read little on this concept. Charlotte Beck makes the statement >that other than sesshin, an intimate relationship offers next best opportunity to practice Zen. She then goes on to give some >concrete details from her relationship with her partner.

>I am here looking for a dharma companion. If more than one person volunteers, I will select one and see how we work out. One >such relatonship may be as much as I have time to handle. If the first works out, I may have time for a second. If it doesn’t, I >hope there is a second to try it with.

Good luck finding your Dharma companion. Although this seems very sincere and I can't think of it any other way, there is perhaps a hidden metaphor too. "other than sesshin, an intimate relationship offers next best opportunity to practice Zen" I think Charlotte Beck has a good thought in there, but it is worth remembering that with each person these things may differ, teachers say things that sound good but are often merely generalities. Companionship is always hard to come by, in my experience. I am not really a "joiner" nor do I ever seem to say the "appropriate" thing at the appropriate time. I think your mixture of Zen, Insight, Tibetan, and etc. is very good and probably is more common with American Buddhists-and Buddhist "leaners" than they are willing to admit. The grasping and clinging to affilitations, robes, transmissions, and credentials makes us choose a teacher, even though certainly with Zen, there is a long tradition of pointing out how really wrong the cloistered monks usually are. A real leader is often the one who turns his back to it. Our lives are really more like clouds passing in and out of the mountains, strong enough to keep a mountain hidden, but when you walk into one it is hard to see where it begins or ends.
end of part 3 -
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 9:42 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty - yes - aging, death, dying are all intimidating topics. As if writing articulately isn't already intimidating. You say Nan Goldman (that right?) got the writing-as-practice assignment? Writing is a deep practice indeed.

Dying is the deepest practice, perhaps. I wonder if it isn't true that real practice isn't always reducible to learning that? I think that in all our practice we are practicing this. I heard someone say that there is no such thing as paradoxes but why then do those who refuse to practice, refuse to open their hearts and minds, are as one dead already?

What I am aware of right now is the pain, the pain associated with dying, (and also with living, which is the same pain), and the loss of or losing a loved one. That is really the hard part. It can lead us into places where we can't handle the emotion, but even if we can handle it, it is still difficult. My wife has gone through years of depression after her parents died; I can't allow myself that. But I don't think I have superior wisdom.

When I'm gone I want to be remembered with laughter. That is too easy to say. I was reading about Cold Mountain and company, or maybe some other Chinese Zen hermits about how disrespectful they acted when one of theirs passed, but to them, is was a way to show the life. It was still difficult, but it wasn't all about the sadness. I think in my current state I'd be all about sadness. This doesn't make me want to go off to China and become a hermit, but it does make me want to understand what the hell is going on.

(Much of the time I just want silence. I wish I had people around me with whom I could just enjoy the silence, doing nothing. I think it would be the deepest thing in my life to greet with palms together and just sit silently and not have a thing to say, not a desire to say a thing, and to be okay with that and be able to do that.) Maybe that is misguided or completely wrong however.

My folks are coming out, they are in their 80's. At first they said they just couldn't travel anymore, not by air certainly. Then now they are changing their minds. They want to see D.C., Dad wants to see the WWII Memorial in particular, something in him changed when his brother died a few years back. He was always unimpressed with patrioticism pe se, but after Jack was gone he softened the way he felt about this. (another long story)
end of part 4

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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 10:23 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/14/09 10:23 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty - part 5 - 5 is the number of segments in an apple or rose blossom, and although "5" is merely a mental construct is is still always the way apples and roses are made. Although you will go on looking for that Dharma Buddy I thought I would reply to at least one of the real or metaphorical questions and then go ahead an open this back up for others again. I hope my comments pave the way a bit for others to do that. Like I said, an unplanned day off and I decided to use it for something.

"Had no chance to write or post yesterday. Peeked and no replies among the 27 viewers since I last looked. New friend, you’re still out there somewhere. So, do you do any mantra practice, or count beads, etc.? Koan practice is much like mantra or counting beads, just variations on the same theme. If I do mantra, I make up my own, in English. Like ths one I’ve been doing in relation to care giving for Toni who gets angry with me with some frequency during my caring for her. It’s a 3 breath mantra, with the commas separating the inhalations and exhalations: Meet anger, with silence, consider, your role, deliberate, response. Deliberate is a pronunciation pun, different meanings whether you ate or where you’re at."

I was pretty angry at the doctors office (not showing it however) so my new practice for anger is directly confronting it with loving-kindness, metta. Since I now can turn off most unwanted thoughts (never in my life have I had this) I can now also turn on what I want too. I was a bit like toying with kundalini in that I turned on the metta to the level that seemed about right, but it required concentration to do that, so later when I was down at the pharmacy waiting for the RX it started to spontaneously arise much more than what I expected. I had this intense love for all beings and on the verge of tears just sitting there like that.

No mantras, no beads. I have them but adhere to what Phillip Whelan said, "in Zen you just play with the beads"

I was reading a post by a fellow who had a rough time at a retreat recently (see "recent posts") and was trying to understand in my daily practice which is strongly based on Insight and Viet-style Zen understandings of Anapanasati "mindful breathing" why and how I experience what it is that I experience. It is one of the "jhana factors" e.g. sukkha (pleasure, bliss) actually this is a sate of relaxation, a feeling of flow or continuitity, like rather than time experienced in increments it is as though time didn't exist at all, or rather it is one moment that never begins nor ends. What I was trying to get at but failed to do so was how I could describe this in terms that someone who needed it could get it. I understood this much however, that as we experience the in breath and out breath, it is all just breathing, and we can just as well experience breathing as something which is going on non-stop. I think that is why sukkha or bliss arises, is because there is non-stop continuous attention on the object to the extent that time becomes merely relative. A perception of relativity, that one moment is continuous with one moment is extremely blissful in and of itself, it is like heat, but a cool heat, in that it builds up it's particular benefit so to speak. I can't answer you about 84,000 moments in a second, but in a general way when two moments become one then there are only 83,999 left and so on. I think of the phrase in "Dune" about bending time and that is always the way mindfulness of breathing has seemed for me since I started it. Anyway, if I was doing mantras or beads that is how I would do it, by counting the breath as I did it. I think this is traditional.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/15/09 3:11 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/15/09 3:11 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

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More on the h a n s e n side-bar or sub-commentary. I think Rusty #11 piqued my interest. There was something about Claudio Naranja at Esalen and then I said "wait a minute" and dropped a short note out of context which needed to be followed up on, and then I and re-read the entire thread top to bottom & am looking at it again saying yes there WAS something in Rusty #11 that hit me.

So anyway, Chuck mentioned bread baking a a kind of practice. Actually one of my roles in this small household is tenzo, the zen cook. I worked 10 years in restaurants before taking up printing, which I have learned many people in culinary school have never done. I have picked up quite a few things over the years. Recently I wanted to put a lot more work into cooking and what we buy, cook, and eat. In the past my view was too much, if you are well fed, then I have done my job. Now it is more, if you're really getting nourishment, then you won't be over-fed. You will receive and "elegant sufficiency". I think in quantum and relativity physics the mathemeticians talk a lot about elegance, what is the quote, "the correct solution is usually the simplest"

Shambhala books offered a 2 book set Tassajara Bread Book and Tassajara Cook Book and I was not spending money on more things at that time, but I decided it was time to make the connection with the message which was really the first Buddhist message I heard, in 1970, the voice of Edward Espe Brown as he wrote about bread-making. When I got the books in the mail three days later, opened them, and found myself bursting into tears. It was one of the most tangible connections to my past I have felt in a long time. In 1971-2 I revisited Big Sur for the first time since my childhood (1952-1962) in Oakland and San Mateo. Strangely it did not occur to me to visit Tassajarra or Esalen at that time. I guess I was hanging out around Nepenthe.

So I'm connecting a bit with yet another wild man who also communed with the universe down in Big Sur, back in the day, even if it is only in the footnotes.

p e a c e

h a n s e n

p.s. Hey I'm inspired to cook a whole wheat boule loaf with kalamata olives and rosemary and roasted garlic, will offer olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, gonna do it right now
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/15/09 6:20 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/15/09 6:20 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 128 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
hansen here (hansen#7.0) - this is the wikipedia clip on Claudio - hope this helps - it seems he is still active in his work -

"Claudio Naranjo is a renowned Chilean psychiatrist and considered a pioneer in his work as an integrator between psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions. One of the three successors named by Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), developer of the Psychology of Enneatypes and leading authority on the Enneagram, and founder of the SAT (Seekers After Truth) Institute, he is an internationally sought-after workshop teacher and public speaker. He travels continuously throughout the world, dedicating his life to aiding others in their quest for human transformation, both on a personal level and collectively. The author of various publications, when Dr. Naranjo is not teaching or acting as a guide to therapists, educators and individuals on the path of self-knowledge, he dedicates his time to writing.
Background:
Claudio Naranjo, Chilean psychiatrist, was born on November 24, 1932, in Valparaiso. He grew up in a musical environment and after an early start at the piano, he studied musical composition. Shortly after entrance to medical school, he stopped composing as he became more involved in philosophical interests. Important influences from this time were the Chilean visionary poet and sculptor Tótila Albert, poet David Rosenman Taub, and the Polish Philosopher Bogumil Jasinowski.
After graduating as a Medical Doctor in 1959, he was hired by the University of Chile Medical School to form part of a pioneering studies center in Medical Anthropology (CEAM) founded by Franz Hoffman. At the same time, he served his psychiatry residency at the University Psychiatry Clinic under the direction of Ignacio Matte-Blanco.
Involved in research on the effects of the dehumanization of traditional medical education, he travelled briefly to the USA during a mission assigned by the University of Chile to explore the field of perceptual learning. It is at that time that he became acquainted with the work of Dr. Samuel Renshaw and with that of Hoyt Sherman at the Ohio State Univesity.
In 1962 he was at Harvard, as a Fulbright visiting scholar, at the Center for Studies of Personality and Emerson Hall, where he was a participant in Gordon Allport's Social Psychology Seminar and a student of Tillich. He became Dr. Raymond Cattell's associate at IPAT, the Institute of Personality and Ability Testing, in 1963.
After a brief return to his native country, he was invited to Berkeley, California for a year and a half to participate in the activities of the Center for Personality Assessment Research (IPAR).
After another period at the University of Chile Medical School's Center of Medical Anthropology Studies and at the Instituto de Psicología Aplicada, Naranjo returned once again to Berkeley and to IPAR, where he continued his activities as Research Associate. It is during this period of time that he became an apprentice of Fritz Perls and part of the early Gestalt Therapy community, where he began conducting workshops at Esalen Institute, as a visiting associate. He eventually became one of Fritz Perls' three successors (along with Jack Downing and Robert Hall).
In the years that lead up to his becoming a key figure at Esalen, Naranjo also received additional training and supervision from Jim Simkin in LA, and attended sensory awareness workshops with Charlotte Selver. He became Carlos Castaneda's close friend, and became part of Leo Zeff's pioneering psychedelic therapy group (1965-6). These meetings resulted in Naranjo’s contribution of the use of harmaline, MDMA, and ibogaine.
In 1969 he was sought out as a consultant for the Education Policy Research Center, created by Willis Harman at SRI. His report as to what in the domain of psychological and spiritual techniques in vogue was applicable to education later became his first book, The One Quest. During this same period, he co-authored a book with Dr. Robert Ornstein on meditation. Also, an invitation from Dr. Ravenna Helson to examine the qualitative differences between books representative of the "Matriarchal" and "Patriarchal" factors lead to his writing The Divine Child and the Hero, which would be published at a much later time.
The accidental death of his only son in 1970 marked a turning-point in his life. Naranjo set off on a 6 month pilgrimage under the guidance of Oscar Ichazo and a spiritual retreat in the desert near Arica, Chile, which he considers the true beginning of his spiritual experience, contemplative life and inner guidance.
After leaving Arica, he began teaching a group that included his mother, gestalt trainees and friends. This Chilean group, which began as an improvisation, took shape as a program and originated a non-profit corporation called SAT Institute. These early years of the SAT Institute were implemented by a series of guest teachers, including Zalman Schachter, Dhiravamsa, Ch'u Fang Chu, Sri Harish Johari and Bob Hoffman.
In 1976 Naranjo was a visiting professor at the Santa Cruz Campus of U.C. for two semesters, and later, intermittently, at the California Institute of Asian Studies, and he began to offer workshops in Europe, refining in this way aspects of the mosaic of approaches in the SAT program.
In 1987, he began the re-born SAT Institute in Spain for personal and professional development, with its program that includes Gestalt therapy and its supervision, applications of the Enneagram to personality, interpersonal meditation, music as a therapeutic resource and as an extension of meditation, guided self-insight and communication processes. Since then, the SAT program has extended to Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina with great success, and more recently to France and Germany.
Since the late eighties, Naranjo has divided each year's agenda between his activities abroad and his writing at home in Berkeley. Among his many publications, he has revised an early book on Gestalt therapy and published two new ones. He has published three books on the Enneagram, as well as The End of Patriarchy, which is his interpretation of social problems as the expression of a de-valuation of the nurturance and human instinct and their solution in the harmonious development of our "three brained" potential. He has also published a book on meditation; The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure; and Songs of Enlightenment, on the interpretation of the great books of the West as expressions of "the inner journey" and variations on the "tale of the hero".
Since the late nineties he has attended many Education conferences and sought to influence the transformation of the educational system in various countries. It is his conviction that “nothing is more hopeful in terms of social evolution than the collective furthering of individual wisdom, compassion and freedom”. His book Changing Education to Change the World, published in Spanish in 2004, is meant to stimulate the efforts of teachers among SAT graduates who are beginning to be involved in a SAT-in- Education project, that offers the staff of schools and the students in schools of education a "supplementary curriculum" of self-knowledge, relationship-repair and spiritual culture.
In 2006, the Foundation Claudio Naranjo was born to implement his proposals regarding the transformation of traditional education into an education that does not neglect the human development that he believes our social evolution depends on.
Some books written by Claudio Naranjo:
The Healing Journey: ISBN 0394488261
The One Quest: ISBN 0895561611
Enneatypes and Psychotherapy: ISBN 0934252475
Enneatype Structures: ISBN 0895560631
Character and Neurosis: ISBN 0895560666
The End of Patriarchy: ISBN 1569370656
The Enneagram of Society: ISBN 089556159X
The Divine Child and the Hero: ISBN 0895561093
The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure: ISBN 1577331400
Techniques of Gestalt Therapy: ISBN 0939266008
Gestalt Therapy: ISBN 1899836543
Consciousness and Creativity: ISBN 0894960091
Transformation Through Insight: ISBN 0-934252-76-9
How To Be
Changing Education to Change the World
Between Meditation and Psychotherapy
also published in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish
[edit]
External links
Fundación Claudio Naranjo
Dr. Claudio Naranjo's personal website
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 10:24 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 10:24 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty13: No fear of unlucky numbers here. Thanks Eric for all your exuberant, energetic, and informative posts. I have read them all. And Chuck, no post from you since my last, which for a while posed a dilemma for me. Keep writing to you, or respond to Mark, who also posted here, before Eric. My decision, was to keep responding to you until some kind of formal closing of our one on one relationship.

You mentioned Claudio and his website, and Eric gave me a fairly complete catchup on Claudio since I last saw him in ‘71 and read THE ONE QUEST and THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MEDITATION. Although I had completely forgotten THE ONE QUEST until I saw it in Eric’s post, I’ll use the title as a takeoff for this post, as well as writing more about Talking with Strangers.

These strangers were 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses who appeared at the front gate. I told them, I couldn’t at the moment, but would invite them in on one condition if they came back and I had time. The condition was that they give me equal time and listen as carefully to what I told them as I would be listening to what they had to say.

THE ONE QUEST is what they are involved in, though I feel sure theirs is very different from Claudio’s. I would have started my equal time with them by telling them what they are doing has been and still is one of the basic causes of war throughout the centuries, namely the belief people have that theirs is the “one true way.” It would have been interesting to see how that conversation would have gone.

My belief, Chuck, is that there is no one true way. All there is is all our individual little ways which may have various degrees of overlap. Buddhism and the scientific approach seem to be the only 2 religions that advocate skepticism about their own premises. Certainly capitalism, communism, Islam, Christianity, and many others are all on a missionary trip just like those Jehovah’s witnesses. And with great frequency that missionary urge turns into “kill to cure” at its worst, “kill or cure” slightly better, but the basic result of trying to help others by convincing them your way is the one true way is a lot of killing. Is your way, the one true way, Chuck? Mine may be for me, but I have so much yet to learn and enjoy, that I think trying to get everyone accept my way would be the height of folly on my part. I’m not even sure that my current way is a “true way” for me.

Only 3 interruptions while writing this, Chuck. An irritating/amusing aspect of Toni being in hospice are all the interruptions of any non-care-giving activity of mine. More amusing than irritating since while I’m writing this paragraph I am very aware of that feeling of a half smile. The words I use, over and over, keep shaping my world. To put it in active rather than passive words, I use different words to shape or create my very own world in different ways.

A final question, Chuck, should we can a formal halt to our one on one? Not that that would mean you shouldn’t keep posting here when the urge strikes you.
Chuck Kasmire, modified 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 1:18 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 1:18 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Rusty,
“should we can a formal halt to our one on one? Not that that would mean you shouldn’t keep posting here when the urge strikes you.”

I think of this place like a big cafe with a bunch of tables. In that sense, can we make room for others at our table? I think so.

“The words I use, over and over, keep shaping my world.”
Great line! I like that.

“Is your way, the one true way, Chuck?”
It would be if it didn't keep changing on me. This is one of the great benefits of having this open space to speak of these things. When we practice in secrecy and isolation there is a tendency to close down into a very small 'us' and develop strong views of what is correct vs incorrect practice. Since I have been active here on this site, I have come to see and to appreciate the variety of 'ways' we go about this awakening thing. I have also come to see that all of us have some fundamentalism in us. It's good to prod that sometimes – make it dance a little so we can see it.

I continue working with the mirror part of your talking to strangers practice. I wonder if anyone out there has been trying it out and what their experience has been. I find it creates kind of a feedback loop that changes the dynamics of the practice. As I have a hard time following directions, I was playing today with using my reflection to hold a whole-body awareness. Paying attention to subtle sensations which were in a sense overlaid onto my reflection.

I would still like to hear something of the 'slow down' practices. Anyone else interested?
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 3:29 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 3:29 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 128 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Rusty: Gotta go pick up my folks from the airport. There is a subtle tie-in with Claudio that I had not considered before. As I was musing about writing-as-practice, Tassajara, Esalen, etc., and my own experiences in Big Sur I was reminded of a poem I once wrote, a poem which in part reflects some Dharma things but also some possibly Enneagramatic things. More later
p e a c e
h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 6:37 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/16/09 6:37 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Can we make room at our table for others? I choose to focus almost solely on you, Chuck, until you stop responding or we formally dissolve our relationship. That is what I mean by dharma companionship. I choose to look at us as a pair who have left the monastery together and decided to focus on each other almost exclusively.

My choice places no limitation on your responses to others who might post here. Claro?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/17/09 2:41 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/17/09 2:41 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty15: Chuck, I am formally closing our dharma companionship so I can respond to Mark’s post of some time back. This does not at all mean you should stop posting here. When an exclusive dharma companionship with Mark ends, I will go on to Eric. Then if Eric or I stop our relationship, it may be time to again be responding to you.

About all I can say re my mirror practicing is that sometimes I have done it before a full length mirror and sometimes in the bathroom for more of a closeup of my face. Both ways I have found informative.

For info on slow down practices, check Tarthang Tulku’s TIBETAN RELAXATION. One very simple one that I use is to use 2 slower rates of walking than my usual. Considering my usual rate, those could be called “very slow” and “super slow.” I find both of them useful self-training in being patient.

I hope you have found our relationship a bit of help, Chuck. Now to shift my full attention to Mark.

Mark, it sounds like you have a dharma companion, your wife, but just haven’t applied those particular words to your marriage. Toni and I have not been dharma companions altho I thought that might happen when we first got together.

As you see, I’m still learning how to use DhO and at the same time carry on a one to one relationship out in public where perhaps some others might benefit from it. With care giving Toni, one relationship at a time is all I can manage. Perhaps that will all I will ever be able to manage.

I think I may have already dealt with some of your post above, but if not, ask Q’s. I welcome them. They help me clear up my thinking.

Thanks for saying I may have already given you a gift. I hope it was a dharma gift, perhaps even a gift of mutual understanding.

And with that, I’m ready to “give it a go” with you. My previous Evans-Wentz reference is perhaps the only thing I recall from the 2 of his books I have.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/18/09 7:09 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/18/09 7:09 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty16: No posts since my last. As Eric has suggested, Mark, there is probably little literature on dharma companionship, because these are the people who leave the monasteries, feeling they can better awaken themselves and each other on pilgrimage and away from other practitioners. A major project in awakening is the stripping away and getting rid of old habits, of thought and behavior, especially the ones of inattention and not noticing.

A Chan story may be of dharma companions: The 2 monks approached a beautiful woman hesitating before a puddle. One monk picked her up, carried her across the puddle and set her down. The two walked on together. After a long time, the other monk burst out, “How could you violate the ban on contact with women even to carry her across that puddle?” “Oh, are you still carrying her after all this time? I left her at the puddle.”

There are far more stories of lone pilgrimmages. I like the one of Huang Po leaving his monastery at 80 to wander “teaching those who might learn from me and learning from those who can teach me, even 5 year olds.” Or it may have been esp. 5 year olds since they are closer to “original mind.”

I like LaoTze also, who said something about having no need to leave his hovel, that he had enough worlds to explore staying right there. A bit of Taoism, or is that getting too eclectic?

If we are to believe Dogen, “just sitting” in meditation is enlightenment. Nothing to accomplish, no attainments to strive for, just sit. What does that say about the approach of this website, Mark?

I have no belief that there are “enlightened beings.” The idea itself is totally contradictory to the basic Buddhist tenets of impermanence and that the idea of self is an illusion.

What do you think, Mark? Agreement with the above? Disagreement? What might your experiences have to say about these statements? I hope I have given you, and perhaps your wife, some material for your dharma companionship. Or do you reject that as a possible other accurate description of your relationship with her? Have you ever tried to count the number of roles she plays in your life? After counting for a while, you might get a bit dizzy. Do you, did you, start to think she really has no self or identity, but is only a dizzying myriad of temporary and instant to instant shifts in roles, in what she is to you?

I’m feeling a bit dizzy. Think I’ll stop. Oh, I’ll generalize all of the above. Anyone reading can play with the above, and I’ll read carefully but I’ll only be responding to Mark.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/21/09 5:15 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/21/09 5:13 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty17: (10/21---11:28AM) No posts since my last, so I’ll have to respond to myself/ I wonder where Mark is. On vacation? How long should I wait for a response from Mark before formally closing the companionship with him for the moment and going on to respond to Eric?

Interesting there hasn’t even been a comment to the brief paragraph in my last on Dogen and his statement that just sitting is in itself enlightenment. I don’t recall for sure, but I think he also says something like I did about nothing to achieve, no attainment to strive for, etc. If Dogen knew what he was talking about, and in this he follows many other Buddhists including Buddha himself, he would seem to be contradicting a basic premise of this website. No comment? Even from Eric? There is another quote from Dogen I recall which seems to totally contradict the statement above. Consistency is too much to expect from Zen masters? From life?

I’m sitting beside my wife’s hospital bed in our living room, looking at low hanging clouds covering our mountain, but not obscuring the fall yellow of the cottonwoods in the river valley. She’s comatose, and has been much of the time the past several days. Can’t really complete a sentence most of the time. Various functions going, and except when being handled by nursing assistants or nurses who come, I don’t expect she will move from this bed.

I’m doing quite a bit of anticipatory grieving. Probably a good thing. I breath into the tears and flowing underneath my sadness there is that inner half smile and a very muted TCJOB. I do want her suffering to be over, and death will be a blessing for her. For me as well since I do suffer with her, despite my firm belief all that does is add my small bit to the suffering in the world.

Marking “last times” contributes to my sadness. There are so many of them. And with that, I’ll just sit and grieve. Would Dogen say just sitting as I am at the moment is enlightenment?
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/22/09 5:12 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/22/09 5:12 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 128 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
That is correct, that is my understanding of Dogen. It is a kind of highly evangelical view, I can't really get much out of it myself. Here at DhO we speak of an object of meditation, say the breath, or perhaps, a certain passage as in a guided meditation, say the Anapanasati Sutta, or if we are doing "noting" then we track the distractions closely. In Dogen's Soto there is just shikantaza - sitting just to be sitting - really, there is no object in this meditation, and in a sense one really isn't doing it until they reach the objectless state.

I was away for a while with my folks visiting, that's all.

p e a c e

h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/23/09 12:06 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/23/09 12:06 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Rusty18: (1/22/09) I am sitting at Toni’s bedside, much as yesterday except the sun is shining and we have fleecy cumulus clouds. Toni and I have been talking about trust. I just said to her, “It’s too bad your folks taught you to distrust.” Old ground we have talked about before. By saying they loved her, and displaying that they didn’t, they made it very hard for Toni to believe that anyone really loves her.

Toni’s roles, unlovable person, and beliefs, noone can really love me have played a large role in our marriage. And my roles, learned in childhood, and my beliefs have played a strong role as well. Unemotional, stoic, unexpressive Norwegian background does not fit well with expressive, emotional, Southern belle training by unloving parents. Despite that, we have done fairly well for many years.

An introduction to my saying, I believe, a while back, that a major part of my practice, and I would think, anyone’s, is becoming aware of all the roles, habits, training, beliefs, etc. we received before we ever ran into practices such as Buddhsm. Or at least, of those that are harmful to ourselves and others. Many monastics, esp. Tibetan rinpoches etc. are raised by monastics, not parents or parent substitutes who give standard and substandard western cultural training. This lack of experience on many gurus parts, means that many of the practices and difficulties they have found useful, at least at the start, don’t work well for westerners.

Back to Toni and me: I have told Toni that I love her and have demonstrated it really dramatically---at least dramatic for a Scandanavian stoic---more since she was referred to hospice in February than I did in all the rest of our relationship. Before some recent point, I believed that like my parents and myself, she SHOULD be confident enough not to need constant reassurance of love. I never doubted for an instant in all my years that my parents loved each other and loved me. Exact opposite of Toni’s training.

Why didn’t I see long ago, or rather, I did see, but did not really pay attenion and react appropriately to Toni’s almost desperate need for constant demonstration and verbalization of my love? The fact is that I didn’t because of parental example and training that in many ways was better than that of most people I am acquainted with.
This is not at all a guilt trip. Both Toni and I have done our best and continue to do so.

I would appreciate some comments. For all of our time together, I have been aware of, interested in, and practicing various forms of Eastern practices. I have read so many of the books I feel like vomiting. I have been exposed to two quite good Zen masters, and two I don’t consider very competent. And yet nothing in all that seems to have had much real bearing on the most important relationship in my life.

Of course Zen isn’t into things like lovingkindness, compassion, etc. that I discovered in recent Tibetan writings, and after I fell into TCJOB while sitting practicing dying. TCJOB made me feel so good I wanted all the world to feel as good as I did. And then I ran into Tibetan writings. Had Tibetan Buddhism hit the west first, rather than Zen, I believe Toni’s and my life might have been very different---that I would have been standing on my head to demostrate my love, long before I started doing so---simply from recognizing her needs and wants and not putting a big should on her.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/23/09 4:18 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/23/09 4:18 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 128 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hansen #8 (the short notes don't count really)

Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke:
Rusty18: (1/22/09) I am sitting at Toni’s bedside, much as yesterday except the sun is shining and we have fleecy cumulus clouds. Toni and I have been talking about trust. I just said to her, “It’s too bad your folks taught you to distrust.” Old ground we have talked about before. By saying they loved her, and displaying that they didn’t, they made it very hard for Toni to believe that anyone really loves her.

In another forum (Church of the Larger Fellowship's Discussion List - Unitarian Universalists) and in personal correspondence with my sister-in-law I have gone over in great detail my parents recent visit. I have gotten a lot of bum steers from them. They are so authoratative - not authoritarian - but authoratative in their approach but way too often are simple dead wrong, or didn't study the topic they claim authority in, or didn't pay attention, or didn't listen. So I go through a lot of pain when they are around. There isn't any rapport. They just don't listen, and they don't ask either. As a result my life has been far more difficult than it needed to be, as I accepted some really bad advice and based my education and career on really bad advice. I don't question their love, I know it is in their somewhere, even though love and approval isn't what comes through.

Toni’s roles, unlovable person, and beliefs, noone can really love me have played a large role in our marriage. And my roles, learned in childhood, and my beliefs have played a strong role as well. Unemotional, stoic, unexpressive Norwegian background does not fit well with expressive, emotional, Southern belle training by unloving parents. Despite that, we have done fairly well for many years.

This is similar to my situation with my wife. We are stuck ina long-term holding pattern with no progress and no closure on the "old tapes"

An introduction to my saying, I believe, a while back, that a major part of my practice, and I would think, anyone’s, is becoming aware of all the roles, habits, training, beliefs, etc. we received before we ever ran into practices such as Buddhsm. Or at least, of those that are harmful to ourselves and others. Many monastics, esp. Tibetan rinpoches etc. are raised by monastics, not parents or parent substitutes who give standard and substandard western cultural training. This lack of experience on many gurus parts, means that many of the practices and difficulties they have found useful, at least at the start, don’t work well for westerners.

Western teachings of Buddhism have been overlaid on traditional Buddhism, which is almost non-existent in the world today. Most current Eastern teachers are selling the new brand which is rational, science, and non-interactive. Beware of this. Buddha's compassion is the only reason this teaching exists, and is the only thing that it has got going for it.

Back to Toni and me: I have told Toni that I love her and have demonstrated it really dramatically---at least dramatic for a Scandanavian stoic---more since she was referred to hospice in February than I did in all the rest of our relationship. Before some recent point, I believed that like my parents and myself, she SHOULD be confident enough not to need constant reassurance of love. I never doubted for an instant in all my years that my parents loved each other and loved me. Exact opposite of Toni’s training.

Why didn’t I see long ago, or rather, I did see, but did not really pay attenion and react appropriately to Toni’s almost desperate need for constant demonstration and verbalization of my love? The fact is that I didn’t because of parental example and training that in many ways was better than that of most people I am acquainted with.
This is not at all a guilt trip. Both Toni and I have done our best and continue to do so.

I would appreciate some comments. For all of our time together, I have been aware of, interested in, and practicing various forms of Eastern practices. I have read so many of the books I feel like vomiting. I have been exposed to two quite good Zen masters, and two I don’t consider very competent. And yet nothing in all that seems to have had much real bearing on the most important relationship in my life.

Toni has been so long in isolation then, if she hasn't let go and accepted whatever love is there, in whatever form it comes. People get isolated as well as self-centered, and in a way it is a survival strategy - I discussed this elsewhere - not unlike what a sea-anenome does (there we are back at Big Sur) when disturbed it closes up. My wife lives this way too. She suffers tremendously because she lives and knows she lives in a socially dysfunctional pattern. I think the awareness of it its the key - here a touch of vipassana is appropriate - seeing what is. Stopping (shamata) and seeing (vip) yes - but in your case the Tibetan teachings may be of great use. They offer more for folks in your stages of life than any other. That and Pure Land. In fact South Asian Pure Land originated in the health care facility setting!! This is quite documented historically. It was developed as a 24/7 retreat experience for terminal patients to get them to once-return

I think it is rather amazing that you are going through what you re going through and still are able to integrate the experience with your understanding. I'm learning a great deal just by listening, which for the most part is all I am actually doing here.

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h a n s e n

Of course Zen isn’t into things like lovingkindness, compassion, etc.

p.s. no sure if that is the way it always has been though. All this intellectualism has seeped it to Buddhism now.

that I discovered in recent Tibetan writings, and after I fell into TCJOB while sitting practicing dying. TCJOB made me feel so good I wanted all the world to feel as good as I did. And then I ran into Tibetan writings. Had Tibetan Buddhism hit the west first, rather than Zen, I believe Toni’s and my life might have been very different---that I would have been standing on my head to demostrate my love, long before I started doing so---simply from recognizing her needs and wants and not putting a big should on her.


p.p.s. TCJOB is a very specific thing then hmm?

Oh yes, "should" and "ought" are toxic aren't they? Just don't go and beat yourself up with it , okay??
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/23/09 4:20 PM
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RE: Dharma Companion

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Rusty: sorry that didn't post the way I though it would - my reply is interspersed with yours - sorry about that -
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/25/09 1:28 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 10/25/09 1:28 PM

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Rusty19: (10/23/09) Mark seems to have disappeared, Eric, so I’m going to respond to your last. Re Dogen: I read a book on shikantaza with short articles by a large number of relatively recent Zen masters, each talking about their version of Dogen’s just sitting. A lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement. Some even saying that another’s version was “all wrong,” or at least it wasn’t a “standard practice.” Makes me believe that everything written about Buddhism should be first person, not third person---the authoritative, abstract presumably objective mode of writing. Another way of saying, “a little humility please, and recognize that anything you write is just you, your opinions, views, etc, not God‘s or Buddha‘s absolute truth.”

I agree awareness of breathing is basic to my practice, as I’ve slightly described above, and tend to think that at least one of the many varieties can be useful for most practitioners.

On verbal meditation, whether that of a little old Cathlic lady counting beads, a monk using one of the many sutras and shastras, or me making up my own mantras, it can be useful in changing habits, ideas, beliefs, roles as I talked about in my last post. I tend to use it sparingly.

What do you mean by “objectless state,” Eric? At the moment “noting distractions” seems too big a subject to take on.

The above was to your last at the time, Eric, and today 10/25 there is another to respond to. Now to your most recent: On “old tapes,” my belief is that it takes a lot of deliberate practicing of “alternative tapes” to beat the old tapes back. Like: I just uncrossed my legs, deliberately, and with awareness that crossing legs is part of an elaborate old tape of mine, designed consciously at some point in my 20’s and 30’s to demonstrate I was a relaxed, at ease person, when inside much of the time I wasn’t. Parts of that tape are still useful to me and I am in fact a much more relaxed person than I was then, having deliberately relaxed enough times so that it has become a spontaneous habit. For years, the feedback from others has been I am a quite relaxed person, but those who know me best know I am very intense within that relaxation.

Compassion the only reason Buddha’s teaching has survived? As important to me is the whole awareness, alertness, in touch, tuned in, staying in present moment, etc. part of the teaching. Without alertness and awareness of opportunities to be compassionate, helpful, lovingly kind etc. compassion remains pretty much an abstract idea, not a part of my living world.

TCJOB (the causeless joy of being) is a feeling, and a bodily state, and a state of mind much like most 2-3 year olds who haven’t been mistreated. An old man’s wide eyed innocence and interest in as much of the stuff going on in every moment as he can take in.

I’m going to have to write more on my shikantaza, which is more like what I just described as TCJOB than Dogen’s or anyone else’s shikantaza.

Awaiting your next, Eric, or, if I get around to writing again before you respond, I’ll go back into all you’ve written in this thread that I haven’t responded to.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/25/09 2:38 PM
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Rusty: Hansen#9 will have to wait seeing as on Sat. and Sun. I have the wife at home and we try to get a few things done. I have a bit to say about what in the Thai Forest tradition they call "consistent mindfulness" which is AKA karma yoga, and also what I "discovered" in Big Sur in 1971-1972 and which I feel dovetails into Sekieda calls "Positive Samadhi" and might overlap into what you are calling the TCJOB. So I will post some questions about TCJOB & related topics when I get back.
p e a c e
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p.s. as well as replying to your questions
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/26/09 5:56 PM
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hansen here (9)

well, with Anapanasati, which is translated usually as "mindfulness of Breathing" but it could also be translated: remembering the breath - there is an object, the breath, which, like a mantra, yantra, or name, or kasina, whatever; there are ways to meditate that involve the use of some-thing, which we term an object. But there are other ways like "Choiceless awareness" or shikantaza, which may or may not be the easiest way to start out since there is often a lengthy conceptual model which if you are like me, you become overly concerned with the potential flaws of the model to ever get down to serious practice. I react the same way to long books on vipassana, once the conceptual model is more than one sentence, I have already figured it won't work for me.

It is training for the mind, which can then transcend self, which I link to selfishness, and self-centeredness. When one looses that one becomes compassionate because life is still lived passionately but not alone, stuck in a small self. One becomes softened, loving, even in tough love, and if necessary calling someone out on their lies and bullshit, even that is done in love. Loving- kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) (?) is the only useful application of all this, the only universal to arise out of it , enlightenmnet is not practiced for enlightenments sake, the universe is already aware of its self-nature and doesn't actually need us to remind us of this fact. It might feel good to us, but doing good in the form of action (karma) born out of compassion and loving kindness is in fairly short supply.

I had a newsletter from my unitarian-universalist minister but at the same time an article in the NYT about homeless children in the NW, how they have to integrate with each other, adopt each other, and teach each other how to survive on the streets, and it was obvious to me that more metta and karuna was being done by homeless kids on the street (in this situation) than by some of the most trained and informed UUA clergy - sad. Not that the ministers were deficient, but that there is a greater need somewhere else, but that is where we so often live if we take a look around. We see it all around us, but do we take notice?

Sorry if my view of all humans in the human condition is so often bleak, we all like to feel otherwise, but when reality sets in then we have to deal with it. So I don't seek an Ultimate Reality or Primordial Awareness but rather seek the reality of my own bullshit and lies and how to deal with that. Albert Ellis is real good study in this sense, he voices how we con-artist ourselves into all kinds of illogical thinking. The Zen world not excepted.

more chores to do, will add to this later,

p e a c e

h a n s e n
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/27/09 4:46 PM
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Hansen #9, part 2:
Tuesday 27 oct.

Rusty: How is it going?

All this what I said sounds great but when I finally made it down to the doctor's today for my annual physical there are all the signs of not responding to stress in an constructive manner, e.g increasing triglycerides, increasing blood pressure, slightly elevated blood sugar level. At 5' 11 7/8" I weigh about 222, used to be 6' and 155 in high school, college, and several years thereafter. I will need to do much more exercise (I plan on walking) and lose weight, get into the 190's

I am looking more seriously at the Jon Kabat Zinn material now, as one of the keys to stress response is to direct the mindfulness to incorporate bodily sensation, in fact all 4 categories of the MN 118, instead of just seeking bliss which is easy enough to do, BUT....

I have been walking my 2.4 mile circuit in 45 minutes, but not so much recently. When we were in Oregon I used to get more than enough hiking, but it is not as interesting to do here. I will have to use more discipline.

Going to set the timer and run in place for a while, see how that works.

p e a c e

h a n s e n

p.s. Is there a Primer on TCJOB or FAQ?; still interested!
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/29/09 4:51 AM
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hansen #10
oct 29

I fully imagine that you, Rusty, are busy with your primary relationship. I re-read some old posts and wondered what you and Toni are going through now. I'm still trying to hold up my end, side-bar, sub-commentary, dialog/dharma companion. I remembered a similar exchange of words what in our family has become known as the "Amoco Dialogs" - conversations between me and my oldest son after he withdrew from MIAD and before he enrolled in KU and was working at the Amoco station at 9th and Iowa St. in Lawrence, Kansas. Mostly they centered on occult, paranormal, meditation, Gurdjieff, Robert Anton Wilson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Madame Blavatsky, Buddhism, yoga, Pentecostalism, etc. He was recovering from extremely traumatic events at Milwaukee School of Art and Design, I was working a night shift at the newspaper, he worked night shift at Amoco, and so we were able to do this. I went over to his work-place and got a free coca-cola and he and I talked. Electronica music and Death Metal were a part of the mix, as well as the slow stream of customers at the mini-mart after 4AM, in a small town in Kansas (usually drunks) - trying to keep an eye on things and notice whether people were paying or trying to drive away - and a few of his friends dropped by as well - they were glorious dialogs, those. I haven't really sprung the trap on these rationalist Theravada Buddhists here yet. I am only 57 but have a soft spot in my heart for almost everyone these days. I know you'll catch up when you can. Thoughts and prayers with you always,
h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 10/29/09 2:39 PM
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Rusty20: 10/26/09---Dying can be a very slow and sad process. In saying long ago to each other that we expected one of us would see the other die, we thought of last moments, last words. Neither of us realized dying could be a slow loss after loss after loss. I grieve each of Toni’s losses, and grieve with her when she realizes and cries about them. Loads of sadness, and sadness, and…

Plenty of other people are trying to make our living room cheery, even loud at times, like yesterday when several people were competing for the floor. When it’s just Toni and me, mostly we stay quiet, almost whisper to each other. We mourn things, and we smile about things, and even have some quiet laughs. And in sense, both of us make some effort to help others, even the hospice professionals, feel a bit more comfortable with the events in our living room.

Now I’ll await your next post, Eric, and respond to it.

10/29/09:Yes, Toni and her care has been taking a lot of time, Eric. Somethng at least semi-major every day. Yesterday was stopping my daughter-in-law from coming except as a visitor with my son. She had been being very helpful and spending a lot of time here. But unfortunately, her idea seemed to be that she should take over the management of our lives, our household, and even decide which of our friends might visit. In addition Toni had become terrified of her, whether rationally or not. She does have a lot of problems, a functioning psychotic I would say, if losing jobs because everyone turns against her (her version) is functioning. Her telling Toni’s best friend and neighbor that she should leave was the last straw. Getting her gone has relieved Toni’s fear, and I find I am breathng easier and feel much more relaxed that I neither have to keep some track of what she is doing as well as protect Toni from her. Toni asked me to stay in a chair 3 feet from her all the time my daughter-in-law was here yesterday. Hospice social worker says thexe kinds of things happen frequently. Very frequently with angry explosions, etc. We did avoid that and my son is semi-informed of why his wife should only visit with him. See what wonderful things there are to look forward to in old age, doing caretaking or beng caretook Yes, I do believe some alerting of younger people might be useful. Your thoughts, Eric?

Brief response to your posts. Read several of Kabat-Zinn’s books a few years back. He tries to stay within the medical model, but I could see it chafes. Does make the techniques palatable and acceptable for many people though. Getting treatment is OK, meditating or doing Buddhst practice is a no-no for many in our culture.

You mentioned “choiceless awareness” as a practice. My major practice of all day staying with my breathing, while at the same time paying attention to where my attention goes might be termed “semi-choiceless awareness.”

And yes, exercise is important, as well as diet. Those medical findings may have something genetic behind them as well as life style factors which I think is the current terminology. Hope you find ite easy to work on that blood pressure etc. , Eric. Getting close to medically recommended levels does improve your odds of avoiding problems,
Toni rationalized that her weight problem was entirely genetic and inevitable so why bother to pay attention. Some substantial portion of her current suffering I see as a direct result of deciding not to pay attention. Ah, that ever present necessity---PAT ATTENTION!
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/29/09 4:00 PM
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Hansen #11
oct 29
did sitting/breathing/mindfulness 30 min.
made Phoenix Oolong tea which was good - I had a good tea routine going for a while as John Singer gave me a rare king of Pu-erh which is made from black tea, but contained micro organisms here was allergic too. Tea is good for my daily routine but I loved that stuff he gave me so much I went through the 4 oz. block in little time. Coffee causes me to use too much sugar.

Yesterday featured a long walk and followed up with physical therapy and yoga. All my medications, thyroid, cholesterol, blood pressure have been adjusted at my recent physical examination, so I have a couple of routine follow-ups with urology and gastroenterology then I am good to go.

Stress is hard to beat - the Kabat Zinn stuff is good from that angle, but I am not a huge fan of turning Buddhism into psychology or medicine, nor do I approve of charging a fee for basic instruction. I would prefer it if they would use a structure that splits off the introductory course as a free of charge course. Anyway, since I don't often have the practice correct in dealing with stressful issues, I think that is why my stress-related vital statistics keep getting worse.

My initial foray into Buddhist style daily meditation began about 10 years ago, I had other styles, schools, and practices before that. I began with the Kabat-Zinn techniques, then began to attend meetings with Thich Nhat Hanh's organization. This made my daily sitting easier, but I did not have the teaching exposure that other people in the organization had. I got far enough into it to see that it was a huge meditation organization which unfortunately teaches a one-size-fits-all approach. Whether or not I was kept in the dark and fed bullshit I don't know, I can't really place blame for that. What resulted was I fell into what Shinzen Young calls the "Tranquility Trap" or was it "Serenity Trap" that results sometimes from a samatha practice with very little vipassana component. What shook me out of it was realizing that it alone was NOT going to lead to liberation, there was yet another dimension I was neglecting. With this in mind I began to explore two things: basic fundamental teachings starting with the Four Noble Truths, 3 Characteristics, This-That Conditionality, and Indra's Web and started to build a framework for there. And I kept meditating, but there was foremost in my mind that the meditation was nice but not enough to lead to liberation. Somewhere in this process I began to hit paydirt, and recurrances of "Bliss" and "Rapture" became more common during my daily sitting. These kinds of things kept accumulating in a sense I was certain that this was what was called samadhi. I began to do internet research into the jhanas, which I discovered to be the best model available matching my expereinces. This led in turn to joining groups online that dealt with this material. Finally I had what I now call my "Hour of Clarity" where there was no awareness of a self, or anything like a self, it was a bit like a contraidiction, because although I could sense that everything was fine and normal and all that, I couldn't see any one experiencing it. This established a profound change and a turning point in my practice, and a change in my attitudes about what I though I was doing in meditation.

So - after that long explanation - how I sit today, mindfulness of breathing, noticing the distractions, breathing mindfully with 4 Frames of Reference or 4 bases of mindfulness, the body itself, the feelings/sensations/perceprtions from the body, the mind itself, and the dharmas and mental formations arising in the mind, I still try to be serious about samadhi, knowing that the wisdom factor intersects with the concentration factor. I am working a bit on the morality factor too, especially honesty.

Also - and this relates to daily sitting practice - my basic template for understanding goes back to the idea that attachment, craving, thirst, tanha, dukkha, - that is what keeps us from being liberated, it is what we are to be liberated from. That feels backwards, like a negative model, but it true if you look at the human condition. Attachment could also be termed addiction. Buddhism doesn't model after addiction, it only recognises attachment. Much of how we look at addiction is true of all attachment. The people shopping at the Mall are acting out on their addiction. People driving their cars, acting out on addiction, many of the little daily routines, are nothing more than acting out and reinforcing addiction, which is really just attachment. So it is a very direct process when someone post their problem online to first look at it and see what kinds of symptoms of attachment they display. I do that with myself all the time.

Another way to practice vipassana is diving right into whatever come up, you approach the attachments, and aversions, the patterns as you experience them quite directly in this application. there are a lot of things to notice, presumptions, assumptions, categorical thinking, irrational thinking, all of which don't have any basis in reality. Sometimes reality sets in really hard, we have to sit up and take notice. This is valuable, then to approach directly. In Buddhism we don't chase after chimeras, spiritual experiences, we deal with our garbage, our laundry

Anyway, that is a longish explanation about some of the things taking place on the cushion, the daily sit.

As per dealing with the drama and histrionics that go on around a person who is in the dying process, when my wife's mother died there was too much of it. Exactly the same as what you described, someone stepped in and tried to regulate who could visit and who couldn't, and in that case it wasn't someone who had been on the scene locally, long-term. It was just one of those over-reactions, insanities. I think it was dealt with in a similar manner as how you had to deal with it.
m o r e t o c o m e
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/29/09 4:19 PM
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hansen - continued - #11

So all this goes back to your first post - all the way at the top, about daily practice in practical terms. And to summarize, and get to the point, samadhi is great and a good thing, but it isn't liberation. Liberation is understanding, knowing, and having wisdom from rather obvious but hard to verbalize facts of reality experienced not only in samadhi, but through the entire life experience. Not only through one's self, but through others, but to actulaize it is a personal quest.

One other thing happened in meditation today, I re-experienced when my son was hit by a car and lost part of his leg muscle. I remembered changing his bandages while infection and eventually gangrene set it. All of us are still having these traumas come back from time to time.

Both of Christa's parenst died in their 60's - much too young, from cancer. It remains very painful as it was so unexpected, so unfair. Lifestyle may have been a factor, and on that note, I need to go for my daily walk!
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 10/30/09 5:19 PM
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hansen #11 footnotes.
Oct. 30
Rusty: All my posts and threads on DhO and KFD are inactive except for this one, Rusty. I noticed that the context for this communication was what at Wilderness Quest we used to call "check-in" or "checking-in" whcih is a family therapy group practice used in "family circle". We used to do that in our family before the nest became empty and we all went separate ways. At CML we had Dharma Discussions which followed the same format. Sitting in a circle, a feather is passed around until it stops at the one wishing to share. Only she or he speaks, no cross-talk is allowed. Process repeated. Or bow and you press you palms together in gassho when wishing to speak, and likewise when finished. I used to begin many a talk in dharma discussion at Cedar Sangha in Oregon with "Checking-in...."

Work went unusually well this week - my sitting practice is evolving and I am returning to the practice of samadhi, that is I am out of the hut called "First Hut" and back on the path farther up the mountain now. This represents a radical departure from the place I have been the past few weeks. I will continue to be available as I move on up the mountain but the next section is dramatic and will no doubt involve reaching places that look like they can't be reached, but they are done one step at a time, just like before. In other words, above timberline.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/2/09 5:27 PM
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hansen # 12
Nov 2
Rusty: How's it going?
I need more input on "Dharma Companion" and TCJOB when get the chance. You said Charlotte Beck had written on the topic of the former. TCJOB sounds like a kind of flexible definition, reminds me of what they are calling "rigpa" in one of the other discussions - also I have heard the word "zen" used in this context too - not as an absolute attainment but rather as the conscious moment by moment act of letting go and becoming aware. Your input?

I have been branching out a bit and using some of the meditation techniques from Daniel and Chuck, and have joined other meditators on Facebook as well.
#12 - continued
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Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 11/4/09 8:31 AM
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Rusty21: (11/2/09) A lot still going on with caring for Toni. The daughter in law problem seems to have shaken down OK, with her totally out of our hair, my son a bit more involved with us, some support for her in handling her possible feelings of rejection, and vast relief and relaxation on both my and Toni’s part. A talk with my son yesterday found us in total agreement and exchanging info on various aspects of his wife’s problems with trying to manage the world around her as a solution for her own problems rather than looking at and changing herself. He has dealt with it over and over in their relationship from the very start.

I read your 3 posts since my last, Eric. Sounds like you are very actively working on a number of things. I am trying to keep things as simple as possible. A nice quiet time leaning back here in our LR with Toni quiet or sleeping, and me doing my old familiar practicing dying---letting go of everything, accepting the idea that I might expire with this very expiration of breath, waiting to see if my body wants to take the next breath, enjoying the quiet of the whole process.

Aside from that, alertness---to Toni, to the general situation of the moment, to the beauty of the moment….i

Leaving out Yasutani’s samurai image in his description of shikantaza in Kapleau’s THREE PILLARS OF ZEN, I find it the most useful description of a way of practicing. My particular image is much more peaceful, an Indian scout slowly moving through of a forest, alert to all sounds, seeing, seeing, seeing, and hearing, hearing, hearing, totally in the moment. No killing or enmity, but great awareness, alertness. It is practicing “enlightenment” by simply doing enlightenment moment by moment. The idea of a finished state---enlightenment, arhatship, particular stages in a progression toward a finished state---all of them seem contradictory to basic Buddhst premises---impermanence, nterdependence, and the non-existence of a past or future, only this moment being reality---or is it just a dream as the Dalai Lam says? To the extent I am able, I believe I can experience as the Buddha experienced moment by moment---that there is really nothing special about it.

Included in the alertness, is relarxation, looking for opportunities in each moment, to enjoy the moment myself, to help someone else enjoy, to do a slight bit toward relieving someone’s suffering, toward their being happier, etc. I believe enlightened moments exist with some frequency in the ordinary daily life of people of good will, no matter what their belief system or theories of what life is all about. In brief, my mother’s belief that no “good person” would go to hell, regardless of their religion or lack of it, their beliefs counted for much less with her than how they lived and treated other people. And I am my mother’s son!
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/5/09 5:38 AM
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hansen 12.2
Thursday
Rusty: Yes - good to hear from you.

My current irons in the fire aren't so many actually. I was wanting to fill out the background a little for you. I interpreted your initial requests concerning dialog and tried to flesh them out a bit, and several things came to memory that otherwise would have not. Asking actually works this way with me. I have had a few conversations with Christa and accessed incredibly rich memory which would not have been available if she had not asked. Do you experience this?

Christa will be going to the U.A.E. for about a week and a half, starting next weekend. I will be at home doing a mini-home-retreat and may not be available online at that time, say Nov. 8 -23.

I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers,

p e a c e

h a n s e n
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/6/09 4:24 AM
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hansen 12.3
Friday
Rusty: strangely everything was out of kilter for me today, not sure what happened. All is well though but very stressful with no real reason for it. Quite strange.
P e a c e,
H.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/8/09 5:25 PM
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12.4
Sunday
Rusty-
Alternating between good days and bad, feeling centered and not, positive emotions and reactions, and negative ones. Some moments are more difficult than others. These mood swings began when I metaphorically left "Hut One" and went up the mountain on the trail - see the blog site thesuddenschool.blogspot.com
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p.s. I have to get a biopsy done next week, this was thrown into the mixture too
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/11/09 8:16 PM
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hansen 12.5
Wednesday
Rusty - sorry am not able to reply at length. Had minor surgery on eyelid today, the anesthetic didn't really kick in so just went through some of the pain. Had teeth cleaned yesterday, also no anesthetic, it seems to be a theme lately? My understanding of the dharma grew unexpectedly this week in a way i wasn't even looking at. The biopsy on the prostate is the only remaining outstanding unknown from this years medical examinations. Christa leaves for Bahrain and UAE on Friday, that is when my informal home retreat starts, but I will still post here to you.

How is it going your way?

p e a c e

h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 11/18/09 11:52 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/18/09 11:52 AM

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11/13/09---Nine days since I posted here. A very tiring 9 days, physically and emotionally. A number of big problems with the hospice care Toni has been getting which I hope are cleared up. Toni is now on both a morphine equivalent patch and liquid morphine as needed. Out of it and sleeping a lot. Some hallucinations, some paranoia, and continuing pain every time she urinates. And not at all clearly near the end. I really hope that those legislators who cater to the no euthanasia crowd have a lot of experience in their own life similar to what Toni and I are going through. Wish I didn’t feel that way, but at the moment I do. Would their suffering do the world any good? Probably not. Many people who suffer want others to experience the same, including me at the moment.

If I had a way to make that wish effective, would I? I doubt it. Those legislators have created their own opportunity for what I consider unnecessary suffering.

After sitting seeing what might come, back to ordinary life, “nothing special,” which for me is the only place enlightenment, practice, etc. makes a difference. A phone conversation with a neighbor and a good friend: Jan---It’s a gloomy day out. Me---Looking out the window I see a beautiful, somewhat silvery, high overcast that’s a welcome change from a number of sunny days. But you have my permission to see it as gloomy if you wish. Jan---(laughing) Yes, it is a matter of perception.

That’s abbreviated from the actual conversation. Did that slight nudge toward Jan’s recognizing how at that moment she was creating a gloomy world for herself with her words do any good? Was her remark that it’s a matter of perception perhaps avoiding a concrete and specific realization that might affect her future use of words? Jan enjoys my calling her on such things. Many might resent it. Many would argue their description of clouds as gloomy was simply realistic perception---”everyone would or should see and describe them as I do.”

Is it worthwhile, as I try to do, to catch myself, over and over again, creating a world I don’t want to live in? It is true that had I simply wished that those legislators might learn to look at the world and legislate so as to reduce suffering in the world, I would feel better. I doubt very much that wishes have much effect in the world unless they are put into effect by actions. But wishes do have an effect on the person doing the wishing. Probably my conversation(s) with Jan are far more useful for me than for her. Same I’m sure is true of my posts on this site. But maybe, maybe, I hope, I hope, something I do allows some others to create more happiness, a better world for themselves…
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/19/09 6:21 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/19/09 6:21 PM

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hansen #13
Thursday, Nov 19
Rusty: Thanks for the update.

I am sure that both your strength in endurance, emotionally as well as physically, as well as your focus on spiritual practice during crisis serves as an example and a testament to those who read your words here. I know I certainly feel that way.

When I began replying to your posts (irony #1) I had no idea that I would be in the situation I am in right now: waiting on biopsy results. I feel fine (which means nothing in particular), so it is hard to conceive that anything could be wrong, however the tests will be conclusive. So this feels kind of odd, but I couldn't NOT mention it.

This is my week of intensive practice, so, except for you, Mom & Dad, and Christa, I am not in correspondence with anyone. I could write to the 3 boys, but they don't write back, so what's the point? I could try phoning I guess. Dealing with the simple fact of mortality has never been so clear for me in part due to the fact that this came about during this week of practice. (Irony #2)

So why do such ironies arise? Perhaps it is because of the simplicity & clarity. Maybe they always arise, but normally we fail to see them?

I agree with you on the legislative issues. My family knows that my preference is to go walking in the mountains, the desert, etc. But unfortunately such choices are more of as rarity, and we usually don't have that kind of control over our life circumstances.

p e a c e

h a n s e n
Lucinda N Brown, modified 12 Years ago at 11/19/09 9:11 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/19/09 9:11 PM

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Rusty,

I am new to the Overground and have been hesitant to throw my two cents worth into any discussion... still feel that hesitation but also feel that I have something of value to share to your particular situation. To begin with, my heart goes out to you and your wife. I can't say that I know what you are going through or have any words of wisdom to share... but I do have some information. Palliative sedation is legal and is done in this country (US). It's generally used when the patient exhibits severe, unreleivable symptoms and the patient's demise is expected within days to weeks. I guess most people don't know this... and maybe they shouldn't... it's a very personal decision that shouldn't involve anyone but the patient, the immediate family and the hospice team.

I admire your dedication to practice during this period in your life... and have much enjoyed your beautiful writing. I sincerly hope that your wife has a peaceful passing and that you have many hearts to support you in the upcoming months and years.

Hang in there,
Lucinda
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 11/20/09 2:15 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/20/09 2:15 PM

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11/18/09---Many people have written their fantasies of what happened with the Buddha under the Bohdi tree both before and after he saw the star rising in the East. I’m willing to believe that the original memory/fantasy started with Buddha himself. I’m also willing to believe that he started a search for a solution to his own suffering and the suffering he saw in others with various teachers of his time, and failed to find the solution listening to them and doing what they recommended. Having given up on others solving his probem for him he sat determined to find the solution for himself. In doing this, he took the only course that works.

This is not to say that teachings and demonstrations from other cannot be helpful. It is to say that unless I leave them behind and find my own truths and solutions, all I will be doing is trying to live someone else’s life, not my own.

So he sat and sat and meditated and meditated and probably cogitated and cogitated. As he saw that star, all the effort dropped away, no more concepts and verbal thinking coursed through his mind. All that was left was his experience of the moment---the massive and wonderful input of all his senses, and the bliss and non-suffering accompanying not verbalizing, not remembering, not imagining a future. He sat, and enjoyed, and enjoyed, until he finally shook himself and verbalized or pictured what he might do next.

It was immediately clear words were totally inadequate to transmit what he had learned. No mntter how much or how long he talked or tried to demonstrate his experience so others could do and experience the same or something similar, it would only be a long winded and approximate effort. Was it even worth trying, since the odds of succeeding looked so small? He did decide to make the effort, as we know.

And as we also know, so few have really got it, as clearly shown by my 2 to the 80th power demonstration a few posts back. What, in human nature, has made for this massive failure??? It’s probably the me-me-me and “mommy look at me” that starts shortly after language acquisition begins. Certainly quietly observing what people do, listening to social conversations, convinces me that the “mommy (and anyone who will) listen to me” continues throughout life, even among the most informed, intelligent and sophisticated. And that is what I am doing at the moment, hoping someone will listen to me…

Thanks, Eric and Lucinda for your posts. Hope your biopsies show favorable results, Eric. If not, it often is worthwhile to check or get a second opinion on unfavorable diagnostic outcomes.
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Eric Alan Hansen, modified 12 Years ago at 11/25/09 9:38 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/25/09 9:38 PM

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hansen 14 - Nov 25

Rusty: The results = "benign"

But it put me through some changes on the way. First of all, what if it was inoperable? If they tell me how long I have to live how long will I be able to make rational decisions about the remainder of my life? What would be reasonable life objectives and what wouldn't? Second, if I had cancer and it was treatable what treatment I would choose, or what choice would I be given? I became acutely aware that with either diagnosis time is running out anyway. Still, it was a shock to my system. One decision I made was if the test came back positive I would record myself in video format for all those left behind and all those to come. If test came back negative - then I would craft a novel, or a novella, or at least a long short story about how in boyhood I knew more than I do as a man. I did know more then as I know now. All along, the script gets played out, it is a process that is unalterable...

Still, strangely, although it was a shock to my system it created a deep "party on" mentality. By and large few things outside of pure art interest me, so my sense of "party on" might have nothing to do with, say, "football" but might have a lot to do with for example dancing. Christa has been in Bahrain and Kuwait for 2 weeks so I have been dancing in the kitchen so to speak. In spite of being fully aware that potentially I had a fatal disease for the most part there was little emotional roller coaster - there WAS - but less that what I expected and a real urge to go out and "live" (?) NOT the Pure Land clinic I expected it to be (????)

p e a c e
h a n s e n
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 11/27/09 11:41 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 11/27/09 11:41 AM

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11/19/09: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I have run into a lot of good intentions in people wanting to help me and help Toni as we go through this hospice experience. It makes me wonder if the current emphasis on compassion and helping others (as demonstrated in “BEST BUDDHIST WRITING---2006”) might not make “The road to hell is paved with bohdisattva vows and attempts to be compassionate and helpful” an equivalent truism.

It is clear from what gets published as well as from people I have talked with that many of the attempts of gurus, zen masters, meditation teachers to help people result in harm. A number of people have told me they feel sure their experience with such teachers harmed them. “Don’t just do something, sit there,” and “Do no harm,” may be home truths bohdisattvas should emphasize in order to not have their efforts to be helpful go awry. But it is very difficult to “leave well enough alone” when we see others suffering what seems to us unnecessarily. I have been in a helping profession, or have practiced various forms of Buddhism for all my adult life. The one thing all that experience has made me absolutely sure of is that it is far more difficult to help others than many people seem to think, and that despite a lifetime of such experience I know I seldom possess the wisdom or skills to avoid harm in my efforts to be helpful.

Looking at these posts, which I almost blindly hope might be of some use to someone, can they be harmful to someone? Would the world in general be benefited more if I stopped using electricity and internet space to put in my two cents worth? So far it seems I should continue---a number of people read, and at least one has said something I have written here will be useful to them. But it is a question I think I should keep toward the forefront of my mind.

At times, perhaps even frequently, I try to raise questions that might be provocative, might lead some to do some rethinking. In doing that I might be tempting some toward anger. I do believe all anger is something we create as individuals, that nothing out there “makes us angry” but that we “make ourselves angry with our view and labeling of what’s out there.” Would I be better off if I stopped asking myself unanswerable questions? At the moment, the answer is yes.

I told a local Zen abbott, who has made the papers for clearly harming one of this female students, that the bohdisattva vows seemed too grandiose for me. Not only are they that, but they are clearly egocentric---and all about hanging around forever---self, self, self, me, me, me repeated and chanted often.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 12/1/09 1:42 PM
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Rusty26: 11/28/09: Toni continues suffering, and going downhill. I can only hope her suffering ends soon. There are many signs suggesting no more than a month or two, and some indicative of a week or two.

I will continue posting only here, after my one post in the thread Andy started. In response to his question as to why I pay attention to (stay aware of) my breathing all day, going back to it every time I notice my mind has left it completely, one could be a question in return: Can you think of anything better to use as a meditation anchor for all day mindfulness? I’d be willing to try it. Another is to note that many, many answers to the question are scattered throughout my posts here.

Answering my own question to Andy, I think anyone who asks a question here should be willing to answer their own question: I think that for me breathing awareness is by far the best meditation anchyr for all day mindfulness.

Andy mentioned he has gotten hooked on the enlightenment thing. I have been hooked on satori as many people trying Zen have been. I am glad I have unhooked myself. I see no moment of my life as being more important or significant than any other. They all offer opportunity. I believe that the emphasis on enlightenment, satori, etc. is unfortunate. Paying attention to this moment, and the next, and the next, ad infinitum, is something I believe is far more useful for most, maybe all people.

12/1/90---Very quiet the two days, with only professionals helping. They are far less intrusive than family trying to be of help.

I have started to think some of what I might do, assuming I live longer than Toni. Odds at this point seem to point that direction, but ??? I feel quite sure I want to dump responsibility for this house, its upkeep, and even its investment value on my 2 kids. Once I manage that, I am ‘free as a bird” other than paying attention to my physical limitations, trying to maintain health, etc. This post is Rusty26. Glad you got benign results, Etic
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 12/5/09 11:35 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 12/5/09 11:35 AM

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12/3/09---Quite a few reads, but no posts here since my last. In the midst of a “helpful”visit from someone who loves Toni dearly, tbe viist was interrupted by four days. Druing the first part of the visit I was fuming, obsessing, and trying to lessen the negative impact of the visit on me, and from my viewpoint, on Toni. A very tiring person whose high energy makes a lot of demands on other people, and at this point neither Toni need extra demands put on our energy.

During the interval, I worked on myself, ending writing the following as instructions to myself. Of course, my hope is that other people might find them as helpful as I did.

1. Accept and sense the world, and esp. other people as they are.

2. Check your own state of mind---often, perhaps continuously. If you find yourself dissatisfied with anything, I.e. want to change it repeatedly, keep thinking about it, find yourself unable to just drop-it and let go of it, it is time to start working on yourself.

3. Try to avoid suppressing, rationalizing, justifying, etc. in working on 1 and 2. Simply look for other ways you might see, hear, sense, think about the burr you’ve placed under your own saddle.

4. For 1 and 2, dropping as much internal verbalization as possible is helpful. Words are a major way we manipulate ourselves and others. Only by listening silently might we stop our perpetual attempts at manipulation.

5. It is much easier to change yourself than to try to change even one other person. Once you change yourself, the world and other people might be, often are, perfectly all right as they are. I have read that Buddha himself proclaimed the world to be perfect as it it,

6. Be careful to maintain your personal freedom. Feel free to say “no” very emphatically.

Going thru the above, and especially recognizing how I was beating my head against a wall pointlessly, TCJOB came out from the muted corner in which it was sitting and stayed present. Not only that, my handling of the situation improved when I got really clear that everyone involved was trying to do the best they could.

And, with Rusty27, I have reached my last post in this thread. I’ll start another thread in this general topic as soon as I get around to writing Rusty1 for there.
Lucinda N Brown, modified 12 Years ago at 12/5/09 7:43 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 12/5/09 7:43 PM

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Rusty,

I am one who reads your posts... and am the type that always has a thought or two (or three) to share... but wonder if anything that I would have to say would be of help or interest. So, I read and think about things that I might say, or could say... and then don't. I do enjoy your posts and when they don't appear after several days wonder what's going on in your world. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are others that read your posts that feel the same way I do. So, we are here... and I'm sure many really do care about what is going on in your life. Kind of with you in spirit, if you know what I mean. I'm impressed that you didn't strangle your visitor...
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 12/6/09 5:18 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 12/6/09 5:18 PM

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Thanks, Lucinda. What I'm doing now is trying to write about a page a day, let them sit a while and then post in a new thread. Meanwhile I will briefly answer any posts here. Toni may be in her final days, or weeks of life even quite probably is. When I have re-read, edited, etc. these one page things I plan to write into the indefinite futre, I'll start posting them. I'm amazed that TCJOB stays so present in the situation of my wife dying. It puzzles me. Why does it stay so much the same feeling? Everything else changes moment to moment. Life is weird, and infinitely intresting. Said the wrong way. I infinitely interest my self in my experience of life....
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 11:35 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 11:35 AM

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Jamzar: Rec’d notice of your email but don’t recall how to access it. You can contact me with a post in this thread. Thank you for bringing me back to dharmaoverground.

My wife Toni died, perhaps exactly on the solstice in the early morning of Dec. 21, ‘09, just 12 days after my last post in this topic. I am almost entirely past the physical symptoms of mourning and grieving. Say one slight feeling behind the eyes that tears might come in the past 3 weeks more or less.

On 4/1 I started posting in a Amazon.com Buddhist discussion forum on mindfulness, and am thinking I may publish my 10 or 11 posts there here. I think that’s legitimate. Then, once I catch here up with there, I’ll continue doing my one publication per day both there and here.

I found re-reading my next to last post here useful. I may re-read all my posts here, just to recall where my head was and what it was doing back in Sept.-Dec. Glad to be back, Lucinda, and any others who might read this. Enjoy your day, y’all.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/12/10 1:44 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/12/10 1:41 PM

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Catching up a little on recent posts in Amazon.com

First post in Amazon. Com:Reading the above, very little of the details of how individuals practice mindfulness, the specific results they get, the difficulties and failures they run into. This requires first person writing which also is the way to write to take full responsibility for what you're saying. See how easy it is for me, an educated type, to fall into that trap. A small failure in my practice. I really think all books on practice should be written in first person. I'm just testing to see if I can get this posted. More later.

Second post in Amazon.com: I hate these dinky spots to write in. Frequently what I want to say runs on much further. I know, I could write it on Word and and copy it to here, but that's wasting paper. Feeble attempt at humor. OK, two ridiculous parts of my practice. Both of them serve as reminders, motivation to stick with my practices: journaling, sometimes 3 times a day, and a checkoff list, again reminders. One of the basic definitions of meditation is remembering after all. Oops, third person sentence. I'll have to really watch that. Glorious colored cloud to the south of Sandia Crest. Yes, I made it glorious by seeing it that way. OK, anyone else want to write about their practices in first person, somewhat as I've done above. You'll probably find it difficult. Second person . there. I find it terribly easy to slip into the third person, presumably authoritative, objective mode of writing I learned in graduate school way back then, even though I think it sucks.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/13/10 9:14 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/13/10 9:14 AM

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I’ve made what I’m doing with posts too damn complicated. Trying to simplify, the following is a post I am continuing to work on. In itself, it may be overcomplicated.

4/7/10---6:20AM: THIS IS A TEST. Creating the test has increased my self awareness and self knowledge. Please follow instructions carefully. Put my name, Rusty at the top of your post.

Below is a numbered list of my practices in the past 24 hours. Create your own answer sheet. Rank order the practices from best or most important to least important, or perhaps I should even eliminate some. Indicating such would be helpful to me. Do this following the letter A as follows:

A. 5, 7, 3, (2, 4) 6, (1. 9. 11) 12, 13, 8, 10 (The parentheses indicate equality.) Write Rusty or Self after your rankings to indicate for whom they apply. Feel free to just omit some practices as not even worth considering.

After typing B. give your rationale for your rankings. Single or multiple rationales are fine. If your rationale for different practices is different, clearly indicate which rationale(s) apply to which practice.

A suggestion to simplify what may seem a complicated task. On a sheet of paper pick one which may be middlin’. Write that in the center of the sheet. Write another number to the right or left if it is more or less important. Then another, and another, writing above or below the line as you have to.

1. Sitting, relaxed, in my lounge chair, looking at my mountains, drinking a 2 cup glass of Lipton’s tea, for 45 minutes, until the morning star was one finger width above the mtn. One of my thoughts was the Buddha enlightenment story.

2. Writing, editing, and posting this test.

3. Lying flat in bed enumerating people I know personally by name, one with each breath, as follows: “May Jan be happier, May Tom be happier, etc.” Took about 40 minutes. At times I used “May I help Scott to be happier, etc.”

4. Remembering, appreciating, and acting on one of my dead wife Toni’s influences on me. This went along with other practices, such as # 5, 6, 7, 8 and off and on since.

5. Turning and driving back to a McDonald’s, signaling the 21 year old girl standing begging of the corner wearing a cardboard sign reading “On the road, hungry, broke, etc.”, buying her a hamburger (she ordered only one),

6. getting her story,

7. giving her some money

8. and some fatherly advice.

9. Weighing myself and recording it. All of my health and weight maintenance practices.

10. Looking directly at, smiling, and talking with strangers. At breakfast I talked with a writer and emailed him the address of this website.

11. Taking a shower which I plan to do next. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness.

12. Remembering to go back to my all day paying attention to my breath.

13. Writing and sending checks to IRS and State Revenue Dept.

14. Sixteen minutes formal sitting facing a white wall on a straight chair.

15. Making sure my dog Spike has food, water, a walk, and enough petting.

16. Using my check off list of things I want to do every day, and completing it shortly before bed.

17. Doing RIGHT DRIVING every time I went out.

18. Making my fairly regular call to a neighbor who is seeing a psychiatrist for depression, has a severe orthopedic problem, and a lot of pain. She laughs a lot during our conversations.

19. Writing personal journal.

This is an ungraded test. If you want one, grade yourself using the usual A thru F grades
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/15/10 3:57 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/15/10 3:57 PM

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4/15/10: Below is the result of taking my own test and following its directions as well as I could. One thing I learned about myself taking and making the test is that I tend to overcomplicate things.

Rusty: 1. 12, 1 (13, 17), 2, 10, 18, 19, 7, 6, 15, 4, (3, 5. 16), 9, (8, 14) 11.

It took me exactly an hour to write a page in my personal journal and do the above rankings. I have reached the conclusion anyone who’s interested would get more benefit from constructing their own test rather than taking mine, and looking at what they consider most important, etc.

My criteria for ranking importance of practices or any of my behavior.

1. How much I enjoyed it.

2. If with other people, my best guess as to how much they enjoyed it.

3. Its potential for reducing my suffering.

4. Its potential for reducing the suffering of others.

5. How sure I am of my judgments, esp. regarding other people.

6. If I happen to remember a specific instance of it, how much I might enjoy that.

7. Minimal potential for doing harm to myself.

8. Minimal potential for doing harm to others

9. How much it contributes to my being awake, aware, alive, tuned in to my senses and as much of the other stuff that goes on in the present moment as I can comfortably and enjoyably be.

10. Its potential for moving others toward the state described in 9.

I’m not even going to try to rank order the criteria!! But I am going to continue to work on my test, looking at which criteria are more important in judging which activities. I expect to learn more from doing this.

I came up with the 9th criteria last, even tho I feel sure right now it is the most important. All the others depend on it; unless you’re aware, offhand I’d say the others are at least improbable, perhaps even impossible. Was I unconsciously saving the best for the last?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/18/10 9:48 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/18/10 9:48 AM

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4/16/10: Having just returned from a pleasant outdoor meal in which I engaged in RIGHT EATING as well as talking with strangers, I realized that consciously eating and tasting every bite should be listed as one of my practices as well. That makes #20 on the list 2 posts ago, and a big omission it is.

I am just starting some RIGHT WRITING, a high school graduation letter to a grand nephew. I think that's the right term for the daughter of one of my nephews. I have until 5/15 to polish and try to make it as influential a letter as I can. In addition to offering her a bit of advice---a traditional thing to do with graduates---I'll be sending her a little money, 2 books on Buddhism, and a suggestion that she read a third.

While I'm on a RIGHT kick I should mention RIGHT DRINKING as a subject I might get around to discussing here.

OK, I quickly went back over my rankings of all those activities. One thing impressed me, how far down on the list I put formal meditation. This even though I do it more often than some others on the list. But the ranking was for that particular day.

It should be clear from my two previous posts that an overall label for what I do is all day mindfulness. Did I mention previously that for perhaps 10 months 8 years ago or so I posted in what was then Cafe Utne but now is The New Cafe under a topic labeled "mindfulness?"

Time to drop my interest in those 2 lists. Is there anything else I want to say?

A continual question I pose for myself as I go through my days is one form or another of "What do I want to do next?" This is leaping a bit out ot right now and into the near future, but I find it does help in maintaining some semblance of awareness of the present moment.

Answering the question involves a decision or choice. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are making decisions and choices practically every second of our lives. The important question is how we make them. Do we make them unconsciously and without awareness? Do we let our habits, all the conditioning of our previous life rule the present moment? While I was waiting for the previous sentence to come to me, I consciously decided to take a sip of tea, I tasted the flavor of Constant Comment, and then went back to feeling my breathing. On the breathing I pretty much let my body decide for me how to take each particular breath. Time to re-read.

Living and practicing for me is a matter of tiny, tiny details, one moment after another. Which raises the question of what a moment is, but perhaps tomorrow...
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/20/10 12:44 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/20/10 12:44 PM

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4/19/10: Just got up from 20" meditating and getting warm under the duvet. Around 20"+ seems to be my natural meditation time. I write the time when I start and check it when I decide to stop. Today the meditation both energized me and woke me up. Felt tired and sleepy when I started. Not now.

What is a moment? as I ended my last post. How many moments did I meditate in those 20 clock minutes? I just checked the dictionary and it's not much help. Like any abstraction or word, we each create our own definition. One extreme is the definition of some eastern meditators that there are 84,000 moments in each clock second. Not my experience, but who am I to say it's not theirs. At the other extreme is the historical moment of the trench warfare in WWI. That moment lasted for years.

How I define and experience my moments gives me my perception of time. I recall how I experienced time as a pre-school child. Days were infiinitely long as well as fascinating and interesting, filled with fun. For the past 10 years more or less, I have been experiencing my days in much the same way I did then. Looking at my life, it seems much the same. I have experienced so much and such a variety of things that it seems I have lived 500 years, perhaps a thousand, rather than my 84 calendar years.

This is in striking contrast to what I hear many people say when they talk of their experience of time. "Time flies...I don't know where the time has gone...It seems only yesterday I was in my teens (from people 40 and up)..."

These people may live a habitual, in a sense, unconscious, unaware life. Of course, their actual life and experience I cannot know. People my age I have known since childhood seem to live this way. Their moments have to be very long when they look back on them. That may not be clear: Another way of putting it is that they must remember very few moments, or possibly their moments as they experience them and as they recall them are just a blur of same old, same old. How else can I explain their "It seems only yesterday I was in my teens?"

They must be unaware of making continual decisions to do the same thing over and over. Their habits are the same as they have been for years perhaps. There may be a certain comfort and ease in living a habitual life. No need to make decisions, they're mostly already made. It's effortless to coast along in the same old way. I'm already living the good life, why should I change anything? And suddenly, here I am at the end and where has it all gone?

Personally, I'd rather make the effort to be aware of my decisions in each moment. I might decide to do what I did yesterday, but perhaps not. Even if the decision is between coffee, tea, milk, soda pop, beer, schotch, gin, etc. making it conscious rather than letting habit decide increases my enjoyment and awareness of both that moment and what I drink. Being aware of and deciding whether to take one more sip or gulp and of the sensatons of raising the glass to my lips turns the moment of having a beer into how many moments? Wow! Even at 84+ I sure have a lot of moments
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/23/10 12:12 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/23/10 12:12 PM

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Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
4/22/10: No one posting with me or commenting on what I'm saying about my practice, my days, my version of Buddhism. My energy has been low. Aging heart weakening??

It does take effort, energy expeniture to stay alert, aware, tuned in to every moment and the opportunities and decisions it presents. Undoubtedly RIGHT EFFORT in Buddhist literature has some things to say on the subject. Mental effort is much easier for me at 84+ years than physical effort, even the effort of sitting here typing.

Back from eating breakfast at Village Inn Pancake House: Possibly my describing in summary fashion a few of the details of my practice of mindfulness while there might be useful to someone reading this. I made 6 times ?? conscious decisions as to what to put in my mouth next. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, pancakes with syrup and butter, water, and coffee were in front of me to select from. I did pay attention to chewing and tasting each bite, and which I thought would taste best next. At the same time, I was paying attention to the sounds and sights around me, as well as being aware of as many of my physical movements as I could. Of course the sensations of my breathing were in my mind much of the time as well. And there was thinking going on. Speculations as to the relationships among the people coming, going, and sitting where I could see them. What might be going on with them judging from their expressions and motions? The details of the relatively unmoving physical surroundings were in my awareness as well but these didn't draw much of my attention. Imagine how much I'd have to write if I went into detail instead of these broad, general abstractions.

Does all that sound excessively busy? I didn't feel busy. I felt like I was eating a leisurely breakfast and simply enjoying my surroundings. Oh yes, some of my thoughts during breakfast were of what I might do after leaving the restaraunt, and there were even a few of things that I had been involved in during the past week or so, and some thoughts as to what I might do with the rest of my day after getting in my car.

I called what I was doing "my practice of mindfulness." I'm thinking many might disagree and say that what I described above is even the opposite of what they consider the practice of mindfulness. Enough, some over 400 words. Any opinions out there? Was I practicing mindfulness at breakfast? How and what do you practice?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/26/10 11:39 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/26/10 11:39 AM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
4/25/10: Damn, time to work on another post. Even tho I enjoy writing...I'll wait until I really want to. No responses to my posts. If there were that might stimulate my writing glands...

Damn again, 2 abstract paragraphs I just deleted. My practice, today: I've done some breath counting. Thirty one minutes of it lying flat on my bed. Occasionally I do a short form of what Evans-Wentz describes as an initial practice for many tyro Tibetan monks---counting all the breaths between waking and going to sleep. Seems like a stupid practice, but there are things to be learned from it besides whether you can concentrate and control your mind enough to be able to do it. Note I said "short form." Even a short form sometimes still gives me unexpected lessons.

I think it was Spinoza who said that if only all the leaders of the world spent a half hour every day sitting in a room by themselves doing nothing the world would soon be at peace. I find it impossible to do nothing. At a very minimum I keep breathing, and hearing, and even if I don't move my bodily senses keep reporting in, taste and smell attract less attention. For sure I have never gone a half hour without some words or images coming to mind.

What did Spinoza think would happen with these power brokers sitting alone in a room doing nothing? I wonder whether they would find themselves good company. I do find myself good company and enjoy being alone doing (relatively) nothing. Any opinions out there? Is there anyone out there who doesn't enjoy their own company?

There are times I want the company of other people. Just the other day, I spent 4+ hours talking/listening to other people. When I finished the last conversation, I really wanted alone time, quiet time, with just the noise that penetrated my quite quiet house or that I or Spike made.

I'm curious. What do other people with an interest in Buddhism do during a day? Are there any besides me who regard the whole day as an opportunity to practice? I do know some people are reading this. Will any readers, decide writing is a useful practice? Natalie Goldberg's roshi recommended it to her according to one of her books. Surely someone has the illusion, as I do, that they might write something interesting, perhaps even useful, to other people. How do y'all practice, when, how much, how goes it, what do you get out of it, why bother to continue? I think it's clear that my aim, goal is only momentary---as much interest, alertness, awareness, consciousness as I can manage right now. My definition of right now varies some, but mostly it stays within the confines of a single breath. How do you define right now, or the present, or this moment? Almost 500 words, time to stop.
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Florian, modified 12 Years ago at 4/26/10 2:11 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/26/10 2:11 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Rusty,

Do I enjoy my company? Great question. It goes to the heart of the matter very quickly - whose company? Who am I? What am I doing, what's happening that I could enjoy or not?

Counting breaths is not an option for me during the day, but I try to be aware of certain "stop" events - walking around the office building between my office and conference rooms, sitting down and getting up, taking a break from typing and so on.

How do I define "now"? Tricky... When thinking about the past or future, I'm doing it now. So, in terms of the breath: when inhaling, or thinking of an inhalation I remember, or planning to do something about the next inhalation - this is happening now. When sitting in formal meditation, noting practice is my tool of choice to remind myself of this.

How much do I practice? About two hours a day of formal practice. How goes it? I'm trying stuff Tarin recommended recently. What do I hope to get out of it, why bother to continue? Stream-Entry, enlightenment, the end of this tugging impulse to seek.

Cheers,
Florian
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 4/30/10 1:01 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/30/10 1:01 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
4/29/10: I'm struggling with this post. I think I know what I want to say, but I've deleted 4 starts already. Ever do that, Florian? OK, resort to starting every sentence with "I."

I lay in bed presumably meditating for 18" this morning. I was aware of my breathing consistently, and much of the time sentences, ideas, thoughts of what I might write here ran thru my mind. I was paying attention to two things, and much more. I was aware of the sounds, the occasional plane, Spike getting protective, the weight of my head against the pillow. I wasn't very focused, but I was quite aware. I didn't move except for the breathing motions. All my mental thinking and verbalizing turned out to be completely useless. I just deleted it.

Yesterday, I lay perfectly still 58" with, I believe, considerably less conceptual activity than I noticed during the 18" today.

I have been doing a lot of mindfulness of bodily motion practice. Aside from feeling and noting as much of my movements as I can, I have been paying special attention to the timing of awarenesses. Am I always aware of an intention to move before I do so? Of course not. How often do I move and only pay attetion to, become aware of it as it is going on? How often have I changed position somehow and only noted it after I was in a new and different state of body?

I am aware of little discussion of these kinds of questions in the literature on mindfulness, although there is some. I find them very important. If I'm aware of an intention to move before I do so, I have some control over what I'm doing. I am not entirely operating as an automaton, playing out old habits and sequences unknowingly. If I catch the intention to cross my legs before I do so, I can decide not to, and thus perhaps avoid increasing my varicose vein problems. Even if I only catch on to what I am doing with one foot in the air, I can stop and reverse the motion. Almost as beneficial as not crossing my legs, but there is a bit of waste of effort there. On the other hand, if I only notice after the legs are crossed, theoretically some additonal risks of needing varicose vein surgery have been taken.

The paragraph above talks about one small repetitive moment. Or we could say I was working on changing one minor habit. How difficult just that is for me! And how many other small unenlightened actions, speeches, thoughts pepper my days? Is it possible they pepper your days as well, Florian? Is it possible they pepper the days of everyone who reads this? For me, getting rid of as many small, minor, unenlightened, even anti-enlighgtened, things I do makes more sense than trying to become enlightened. Perhaps just working on those will keep me more aware, awake, etc. than trying for some exalted state or attainment...
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 12 Years ago at 5/12/10 2:58 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/12/10 2:58 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
5/12/10: Thirteen days since I posted here. And no responses to my post(s). Ah well, it may be slightly useful to me to do another post. Odds of it's being useful to someone else are much smaller. But then, working on myself is far more important than trying to change others and things away from myself. I try to stay aware the odds are much better that I can change myself so a situation is OK with me, than the odds I can change the situation and the other people in it.

Just sat a rather odd half hour meditation. In it, I practiced taking a full deep inhalation before uttering a complete sentence. The point of my doing it alone and by myself where no one can listen, is that it might increase the odds that I do the same in talking with strangers, or with people I'm already acquainted with.

A prime example is two bible study groups I joined at the place where I eat breakfast frequently. Both of them are quite fundamenalist groups. But I have found them attractive. Unfortunately I got myself booted out of the men's group with the statement from one of the men who is turned on to talking with me, "We've decided we want to sharpen our thinking by ourselves, so don't join us. I want to come over and talk with you after we're thru." I don't know how or why they reached that decision, but I am hoping to find out when and if the one member does talk with me.

What I found attractive in both the men's group and with the women's group where I am still welcome, is that while I disagree totally with many of their views, I was impressed by the fact they did seem to be honestly working on themselves, looking at themselves, and making efforts to be good christians in their particular terms. Another attractive thing is they offer(ed) a forum for me to work on myself in my own terms. Of course, they are working on trying to convert me since I let them know I wasn't at all a believer and hadn't been since I was a teenager.

So you see the point, perhaps a single deep inhalation before I say anything with these Bible groups, might keep me in as a member of the 3 lady group. Might also be quite helpful in any conversation I have with anyone if I can establish the habit. Many of the sentences I say alone, are statements of how I intend to function, such as, "Avoid right/wrong arguments, Rusty. They never were useful for anyone."

Is any of the above legitimate Buddhist practice? Or am I way off in my own peculiar corner of creating practices that seem like they'll be useful for me? Could some of the above fit under RIGHT SPEECH?
ratanajothi -, modified 12 Years ago at 5/12/10 7:07 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 5/12/10 7:07 PM

RE: Dharma Companion

Posts: 17 Join Date: 9/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi there Rusty, keep on posting. I read your posts a few times, but it's hard to comment on a meditation log. emoticon

Talking about deep breathing, please be subtle about it or it might make the other people uncomfortable.

Life is lonely, and it is pleasant to be able to hang out with good people, although they may not necessarily be the right people. Go ahead and enjoy their company, there is not much point of saying things to people who are not receptive to it. If the members say something unpleasant, or express some kind of bigotry, try to make a mental note of the kind of trap people fall into in order to save one's soul and skin, and hope that it doesn't befall ourselves.