Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 12/10/09 7:17 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/10/09 7:17 PM


Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Starting a new tbread called “journaling.” May or may not be Buddhist practice, but her Minnesota Zen master eventually told Natalie Goldberg she should make writing her practice of Zen.

I welcome anyone else journaling with me, as well as their commenting on, criticizing, arguing with or agreeing with anything I might say here.

Toni continues to decline. Hospice keeps coming, today a nurse and a certified nursing assistant. Laurie, Toni’s daughter, arrived last night, and for the longest time in far more than a month I have been out of the house, not caring for Toni for almost 3.5 hours. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

Did a bit of “talking with strangers,” a Buddhist practice of my own invention in Barnes and Noble bookstore while I was out. A young man, looking at the philosophy/religion books. Me: You interested in this stuff? He: Yeah, esp. Taoism. Me: How are you feeling? He: Wonderful! Me: That’s great! How have you been making yourself feel wonderful? He: You can’t make yourself feel wonderful. Me: Oh, yes, you can. This book might help you learn how. (And I handed him a copy of THE JOY OF LIVING---a Tibetan Buddhist book on meditation.

A Bohdisattva effort? Do any of these little efforts of mine ever take? I’ll never know. But I enjoy making them, Nuf for now, I’m hungry.

I tend to be overly self crtical of what I write. So I plan to post these the same day I write them if I can make myself do it.
Lucinda N Brown, modified 13 Years ago at 12/16/09 10:21 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/16/09 10:21 AM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 7 Join Date: 11/6/09 Recent Posts
Hi Rusty...

I have kinda figured that everything can be a Buddhist practice... it just depends on what your mind is doing when you are engaged in the task or activity at hand. That would certainly include journaling and your practice of speaking with people out in the world. Intention is everything.

Just wanted to say hi... I hope that things are going along okay. I'm a hospice nurse, by the way... so I can't say that I know exactly what you are going through, but I think that I have a little more insight than most. Do you have a copy of "Peaceful Death Joyful Rebirth" by Tulku Thondup? There are readings in the book that you might want to start doing for your wife. There are readings in the book that can be done for anyone, Buddhist or not. In my line of work... well, lets just say that I use this book a lot.

Remember to take care of yourself... being a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 12/25/09 3:59 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/25/09 3:59 PM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Toni died on the solstice and on her daughter’s birthday. She was cremated yesterday, and her ashes are sitting on the coffee table in a very nice urn she bought. For any curious about the obit she wrote go to She died at 3:44AM and was declared dead at 8:44 by the hospice nurse.

So I’m into my life as a widower. Six or 8 sobbing tearful episodes during the rest of the day after she died. Four or 5 the next day, none yesterday, and today we shall see.

I ran into a total surprise yesterday. I had a life separate from Toni before her final illness. I was so totally and constantly aware of her, trying to keep her out of pain, that I was astonished to realize I had a life apart from being a caregiver for her. And I could resume as much or as little of that life as I wanted. A basic feeling of the moment is that of freedom, along with,, of course, TCJOB.

But what I really want to do here at the moment is see if I can start a conversation on the subject of RIGHT SPEECH. I’ll begin with a question: Does right speech have to be intentional? To make that question specific:

Yesterday, after breakfast at a local restaurant that considers itself a spot for socializing (first time in months), A man sat in a booth near me, opened his newspaper, started reading and continued reading, responding only briefly to my query of whether the heat from the fireplace I was in front of was reaching him. In line with my old Buddhst practice of ‘talking with strangers” I planned a line or two to see if he might be open to a conversation.

As I got up with my book and carryout cup, I walked over and asked him, “Is the paper so interesting that you want to be alone with it, or would you like company?”

“This is my only chance to be alone and read the paper during the day.”

“I stopped reading the paper several years ago. Found it was the same every day and I got bored with it. Enjoy your alone time.”

Were those two speechs of mine RIGHT SPEECH? They were intentional---I was totally aware of what I was going to say before I said it.

I talked about 45” with another stranger. Most of my speech with him was not intentional in the sense of being aware of what I was going to say before I said it.

Does anyone here try to practice RIGHT SPEECH? Want to talk about the specifics of your attempts, your failures, etc. I don’t think I engaged in any “wrong speech” in my 45” conversation, but then I don’t remember all of it. Or does the fact that much of it was spontaneous (impulsive) mean it was not RIGHT SPEECH?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 12/27/09 1:28 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/27/09 1:28 PM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Three things Lucinda, before I ramble on re RIGHT SPEECH. Thanks for your post here. I may be back to posting more regularly now that Toni is dead. And I’m hoping others will join what I hope will develop as a general conversation.

Yes, care giving for Toni was the hardest thing I have ever done in my ulife. And you’re a hospice nurse. For how long? How old are you? Or is that too intrusive?

Intention is important, but more important to my mind is attention. My question in my previous post was whether my talking had to be intentional to be RIGHT SPEECH. I have previously played with a practice of trying to take a full breath, or even 2 or 3, before each sentence I speak. That somewhat changes my talking from being totally spontaneous to there being a very brief and slight bit of deliberation before I uttered a sentence. Interestingly, no one, not even Toni noticed when I succeeded for a while in making my speech that deliberate.

Tlhe downside, if it is a downside, is that in a conversation with more than one or two people, you seldom get a word in unless you use one of various techniques to successfully compete for the floor. Have you noticed how almost all general conversations tend to be highly competitive, Those most successful in establishing the “listen to me, pay attention to me” position do the most talking? Those not as competitive frequently lapse into silent boredom. This is why I tend to prefer conversation in quite small, less than 3? Groups.

Being spontaneous is currently highly valued in our culture. One hundred years ago or so, being deliberate and deliberation were more highly valued than spontaneity. A lot of the change may be attributed to the influence of advertising on the culture. The general theme of advertising is ‘don’t think, buy” Dr. Pepper, Coke, that new dress on sale, “hurry, hurry, hurry,” etc.

Being spontaneous means being controlled by old habits, previous conditioning, what are called unconscious factors. Being deliberate, which almost always means slowing down, gives me some opportunity to change and not be controlled by the very successful advertisers, etc.

So, should RIGHT SPEECH always be intentional? And, what does anyone think of my brief discussion of deliberation and spontaneity? Any one willing to try my technique for making my speech more deliberate and intentional? If you do, tell me how it goes.
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 12/30/09 1:08 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/30/09 1:08 PM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
12/30/09---6:00AM, Wednesday: Last night I went to bed with the sun, shortly after 5, read for maybe an hour, and then went to sleep. Slept well until 4AM, getting in a good 9 hours. Then lay quietly from 4:13 to 4:44 meditating ala NATURAL WAKEFULNESSS. Then got up and I’m feeling really good.

The above seems like a good “natural” sleep cycle for me to fall into, but whether or not I will fall that way we shall see. I’m not going to force anything, am just trying to discover my natural cycle.

Am having a glass of coffee from a “coffee bag” that was sealed airtight in a silvery, shiny package, one package per bag. It’s wonderful thinking about the effort put into this fabulous amount of waste. The packaging I am sure cost far more to produce than the coffee contained in it. Hard to believe that anyone with the slightest concern for preserving the environment would buy one of these. But somebody must have and brought it into the house. Advertising and salesmanship work fabulously well.

It takes so damn many words to halfway decently desccribe the smallest bit of experience!

I’m enjoying NATURAL WAKEFULNESS. The author’s approach is slightly different from mine. Reading the book, it seems to me that he separates meditation from life a bit too much, but the book, like most is aimed primarily at beginning meditators. I do recommend it, and I do keep hoping for that book that I would like to see written. Combining NATURAL WAKEFULNESS with THE JOY OF BEING comes close, so that gives me sufficient excuse that I don’t have to try to write it…

Now, am I willing to post the above? Nothing on RIGHT SPEECH etc. here. Damn, I do wish there were people on this website willing to engage in ongoing discussion, Q&A back and forth trying to stick to a subject at least briefly. So I will post it as is…(39 views since my last, guess that makes it worth posting this also)
Chuck Kasmire, modified 13 Years ago at 12/31/09 10:36 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 12/31/09 10:36 AM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 560 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Rusty,

> Does right speech have to be intentional?

I think there needs to be presence. Not sure if that includes intention or not – I guess it does. Sometimes I say things that I would not have said if I reflected on my intentions – but I am present with what I say and the reaction. Is that enough? If I look back at some of the conversations I have had – there have certainly been many that would not qualify as right speech. Yet, I cannot say that these were not important to my path through this world.

Past few years I have been experimenting with right listening. The practice goes like this: when engaged in a conversation, resist the temptation to say something and watch the internal reactions and desires come up – catch all the little 'I want to say ….' or 'when is that person going to pause so I can say what I want to say' or 'They dont know what they are talking about' – all that stuff. I find it really helpful in bringing more presence into my own experience and it also seems to allow the other person to open up and be more present as well – but not sure on that one. In a group situation, it is interesting to just watch the flow of chatter – the changing tones and body language.

> It takes so damn many words to halfway decently describe the smallest bit of experience!

Not even close to half-way! I am still trying to imagine what it is like to drink a pouch of packaged pre-formulated coffee. I suppose there must have been some intention behind it getting into your house.

Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 1/4/10 10:58 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 1/4/10 10:58 AM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
6:51PM---A very specific practice on listening, Chuck: go ahead and talk with someone as “spontaneously” or as “deliberately” or with “as much awareness of what you’re saying as you can manage.” Your choice on this, but keep track of one thing by counting them on your fingers, either where other people can see what you’re doing, or hiding your hands if you wish. On your left hand simply count every time you use the word you in the conversation. On your right hand tick of a finger at a time every time you say “I.” The grand totals make no difference. As long as you keep counting you will soon notice whether you, or I predominates, or whether there is a balance. My guess is that the more you predominates, the better you are doing at really listening and paying attention to your conversational partner(s). What’s your guess? Are you going to try it? What, if anything, did you learn?
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 1/6/10 11:19 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 1/6/10 11:19 AM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
I've gone to making my journaling private, and simply write what comes at the moment in this thread. I haven't done the I, you, and he/she/they counts on fingers as I suggested in the last post. Not enough hands anyway. But simply being aware of how often those words come out of my mouth, I am finding a useful practice---increases my awareness of my speech, and also gives me some chance at trying to do RIGHT SPEECH, hazy though my definition of it may be. My guess is when it comes to specifics, that most descriptions and definitions are hazy and a bit hard to apply. Living out here in public really ain't as simple as being on retreat or in a monastery, but trying to practice out here is probably better practice. Anybody out there going to comment, join me, ask questions, answer questions????
Albert "Rusty" Rustebakke, modified 13 Years ago at 1/8/10 12:20 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 1/8/10 12:20 PM

RE: Journaling

Posts: 47 Join Date: 9/27/09 Recent Posts
Only 14 views since I last wrote and no posts here. A good excuse to not bother today. Besides I didn't like the 3 paragraphs I just wrote. Don't think they qualified as Right Speech, so I dumped them.