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Midwestern construction workers and the dharma

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Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Daniel M. Ingram 3/16/18 8:46 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Daniel M. Ingram 3/16/18 1:13 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Anna L 3/16/18 5:18 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma curious 3/17/18 5:37 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Daniel M. Ingram 3/17/18 10:11 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma terry 3/17/18 10:52 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Andromeda 3/18/18 10:40 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Noah D 3/22/18 9:21 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma terry 3/26/18 5:10 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Richard Zen 3/18/18 11:25 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Chris Marti 3/18/18 12:08 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Daniel M. Ingram 3/19/18 2:48 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Mettafore 3/19/18 11:54 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Daniel M. Ingram 3/21/18 3:07 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Mettafore 3/18/18 12:36 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma JohnM 3/22/18 7:11 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Noah D 3/22/18 9:23 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma Dan Jones 3/23/18 9:34 AM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma David S 3/24/18 1:59 PM
RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma terry 4/2/18 3:50 PM
I have spent the last few days remodeling a house in southern Indiana  just outside of Louisville, Kentucky that my step-son and step-granddaughter will inhabit. I have been really enjoying working with my hands, mostly in silence, though there have been other construction workers around that I interact with on occasion, flooring people, siding/roofing people, a carpenter, some painters when I was here a few weeks ago. They demonstrate a typical Midwestern blue-collar vibe that I have been very much appreciating.

They showed up on time, worked hard all day, seemed to enjoy their work, doing techinically precise things with efficiency, demonstrating competent craftwork born of years of experience, measuring carefully, placing carefully, getting along. They have been professional teams.
I also have enjoyed seeing the place improve as I upgrade lights, shelving, plumbing, the electrical system, cable, as well as sweep, take out trash and construction debris, clean out the garage, arrange boxes, get the internet hooked up, etc. I have found it extremely satisfying, grounding, non-heady, straightforward, earthy, and fun.

The workers around me have listened to Rush Limbaugh, told off-color jokes, laughed a lot, seemed to be having a good time. They made the house a lot better for their hard work. While I don’t know much about their minds or personal lives, they clearly are highly functional at their jobs, with good attitudes and justified pride in their work.

This is the spirit I really appreciate in the meditation world also, and I have been thinking about how best to encourage that sort of spirit, one of competence, technical craft, professionalism, that gritty hardiness that the construction workers around me have been modeling so well, just related to the work of upgrading and renovating our hearts, minds, and bodies rather than a house.

I have been reviewing my feelings towards the range that is seen, say, on the DhO, which is built to help a wide range of practitioners, from those struggling in the very hard end of what can go wrong to those rejoicing in what can go so right and everything in between. It has raised the question, “How to inject a bit more of the spirit of these construction workers into people’s meditation practice so their own internal upgrades are achieved with something like the same technical competence, steady progress, and skillful pride in a job well-done that has made this house so much better?”

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/16/18 1:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
BTW not at all into Rush Limbaugh, lest anyone get the wrong impression. ;)

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/16/18 5:18 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hey Daniel

Great post. I think you summed up my own personal practice goals here: satisfying, grounding, non-heady, straightforward, earthy, and fun. When Dharma talk gets too conceptual and “heady” I find the practical benefits are lost. There’s something to be said about embracing the very “human” experience we are all living and just getting on with life. 

I find that constantly going back to ethics 101 helps (I.e. do no harm to others or self) and also less focus on “myself” and more focus on service to others. These are the basic practical aspects of the Dharma that tend to be overlooked in favour of the “heady”/“am I enlightened yet” stuff. 

Interested to hear the thoughts of others ... 

Cheers
Anna 

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/17/18 5:37 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sounds like a wonderful experience.  And it is a beautiful vision ... although children seldom follow their parent's expectations, even parents in the dharma  :-)

I guess to have a really well-oganised house, where everything is built in the right place, you might first need agreement on where everything goes.  How does theravada relate to mahayana.  Is it the same as zen, or dzogchen.  Bhumis or paths.  How does noting relate to close observation, to just sitting, to guru yoga ... and so on.  What is the structure that integrates it all.  From where I sit, there seem to be really diverse approaches to first and second path out there, well described, but often without much mutual understanding.  From those, this site seems to emphasise Burmese/Thai methods primarily. After that the territory seems much less well described, although with less dispute and diversity (not sure about this, but that is my impression).

So maybe the house needs a framework for discussion of other approaches to path and fruition? And maybe the existing framework for non-duality and integration can be populated with more detailed contents? 

Just my 2c worth, respectfully offered and with much gratitude.

Malcolm

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/17/18 10:11 AM as a reply to curious.
The point about various traditions on this site is an interesting one, in that the place has its current concentrations of practitioners, but various strains have come to more or less predominance over the years.

True, more Theravadan themes have often had more representation for both historical and practical reasons, as some of the less pragmatic traditions with more nebuous or more fanciful criteria for attainments have often not translated well to an, “I can do this, this is what I have done, this is what I am doing, this is the results, this is how this compares to the stated criteria for success, and this is what I am going to try to do next,” sort of model, which has typically been the basic structural underpinnings of a pragmatic approach to doable dharma. It is often trickier to apply that sort of spirit and ethos to much of how the Tibetan traditions have been translated to non-native settings, and typically very difficult to apply that to Zen, whose aesthetics often stubbornly resist and even openly rebel at that sort of spirit, at least as I typically see them represented today, though clearly both traditions have had some more pragmatic elements in their histories and even in some stains of translation today.

However, there have at times been some strong and engaged practitioners from a wide range of traditions dedicated to real open conversations and real mastery that have come through, and, if you examine the practice histories of even some of the longest-lasting and most stable and contributory members of this site, you will fine a great range of diverse influences.

It is true that aligning goals and terminology without devolving into less savory and less productive forms of communication is unfortunately common, as those on both sides typically harbor some sort of “my use of this term and my interpretation of this teaching is best” attitude, but there are those here that appreciate the careful and sometimes tedious work of trying to sort through the essence of teachings, terms, and practices to get to what is actually reproducable here and now, what actualy works here and now.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/17/18 10:52 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
The point about various traditions on this site is an interesting one, in that the place has its current concentrations of practitioners, but various strains have come to more or less predominance over the years.

True, more Theravadan themes have often had more representation for both historical and practical reasons, as some of the less pragmatic traditions with more nebuous or more fanciful criteria for attainments have often not translated well to an, “I can do this, this is what I have done, this is what I am doing, this is the results, this is how this compares to the stated criteria for success, and this is what I am going to try to do next,” sort of model, which has typically been the basic structural underpinnings of a pragmatic approach to doable dharma. It is often trickier to apply that sort of spirit and ethos to much of how the Tibetan traditions have been translated to non-native settings, and typically very difficult to apply that to Zen, whose aesthetics often stubbornly resist and even openly rebel at that sort of spirit, at least as I typically see them represented today, though clearly both traditions have had some more pragmatic elements in their histories and even in some stains of translation today.

However, there have at times been some strong and engaged practitioners from a wide range of traditions dedicated to real open conversations and real mastery that have come through, and, if you examine the practice histories of even some of the longest-lasting and most stable and contributory members of this site, you will fine a great range of diverse influences.

It is true that aligning goals and terminology without devolving into less savory and less productive forms of communication is unfortunately common, as those on both sides typically harbor some sort of “my use of this term and my interpretation of this teaching is best” attitude, but there are those here that appreciate the careful and sometimes tedious work of trying to sort through the essence of teachings, terms, and practices to get to what is actually reproducable here and now, what actualy works here and now.


aloha daniel,

   It's always satisfying to build, isn't it?

   As far as the dharma of professional construction workers, I spent a few years as a hod carrier in my youth. The men I worked with were professional, no doubt, and took variable amounts of pride in their skills. It was generally healthy, varied outdoor work, and the men liked it well enough, though it is tough to try to retire at 65 as a bricklayer. When you got to know them, they were ordinary folk: divorced, addicted or in treatment, often racist and dishonest, occasionally upright and religious. Perhaps you had them on good behavior. Perhaps they were the salt of the earth, such folk do still exist, god bless us.

   Dharma, dhamma, it's all one to me. Sitting in silence has to be a nearly universal experience, one that almost anyone interested in the buddha dhamma has tried or is trying. Sometimes I like silence and sometimes insight. They seem to alternate, like breathing. There is morality, too - sila. And generosity, dana. All of these fundamentals must be common to anyone who aspires to know the buddha dhamma. They are enough for me. I don't need people to agree with my way of thinking. Or to certify their credentials as buddhists.  If people aren't interested in my view, I can be quiet, and just listen. Most of the time my view is in some sort of mud-settling phase anyway. Even when crystal clear, it is just a view; by the time it is expressed it is old news, history. Like, that's what I thought yesterday, and today those thoughts may be hobgoblins and reptiles, if clung to. In the end it is all grist for the mill.

(a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds - emerson)

(a man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind - blake)


   It seems to me people are looking for a sangha, and find their way here by googling. An attempt is made to provide a virtual sangha, with open doors, to help fill the need. If all it took to make a sangha was lines of text, this would be golden (and is golden). No matter how eloquent, no matter how expressive, words only go so far, if they are all you have.

   People want to help each other, want to advise about such things as eating healthy and getting exercise, that are as much about community as they are about practice as such. Your construction workers probably don't feel the lack of fellowship that many of us dharma misfits do, or not as keenly. The fact that we try to find a sangha online indicates a difficulty integrating our spiritual aspirations with our actual surroundings. (Aka the human condition.)

    Practice is everything, in its absolute, ceaseless Way, but it is also part of a healthy, balanced life. Your perception that it makes people happy to work 1) as a team, 2) with developed skills, and 3) doing something wholesome is spot on, it is the sort of thing people need to do, as a platform for practice. It is "right livelihood" to be doing something socially usefull, enjoyable to do, and physically healthy.  Eating healthy cannot be overlooked either, I doubt your construction workers do that, if they live in america. It would be good to share and develop vegan recipes with people who don't eat animals. and to spend some time talking with people about the dhamma and associating with folk who would rather meditate than watch tv.

   For myself, I'm pretty much "living happily ever after" and have no personal desire to imitate moses and set folk free. It just seems like there might be an opportunity here for the right sort of people, if they were open to creative thinking and new possibilities, grounded in the dhamma. Land is cheap here, the climate benign, the island itself magical beyond description.

   I have a house in hawi, but I spend most of my time in a cabin I built in ocean view. Land goes here for around $10,000 an acre, or less. I have a 3 acre lot, to ensure isolation and privacy. It is very quiet and peaceful. A place for me to meditate and work in my shop fabricating silver jewelry (and listening to music or dhamma talks). I built the cabin without a thought of a building code - more than two thirds of homes in ocean view are built without any permits. They say ocean view is so big, you can see it from space. I live almost as though camping out, as simply and cheaply as I can manage without hardship; and I spend a week or more out of the month in hawi, depending, with my wife. I get up in the morning and don't even think about what I will do this day until after morning meditation. It is this kind of being happy by oneself in the moment (while still having healthy family relationships) that I would like to see more widespread and even commonplace. I would like to see people putting their practice ahead of fame and gain and excessive comfort with forthright human dignity, and being respected for it while feeling satisfied and fulfilled. (No doubt buddhism is more respected in hawaii than any other state, if not more practiced.)

   A sangha; just some folks who love the dhamma (dhyana, sila, dana) and like to share that love, without anyone trying to convince anyone of any special view. No need for a lot of organization, just individuals and families on their land coming together frequently for assistance, eating healthy food, games and exercise, meditation, satsang, and dhamma talks, perhaps some classes. That kind of thing. No obligations, no expectations, no assessments, no donations; not secret but not public; no egos, no dramas. A dream, right? Making music, crafts, food; doing only real things and living close to the rock. No one competing to get ahead. No one left too far behind. Smiles all around.

   There is no limit to what motivated people could accomplish in a place this, on the big island. If there truly were people who really only wanted to meditate and not pursue fame or gain, the combination of cheap land and great climate could be a way to bring body and soul together in a wholesome way. There are few good jobs here, people who wanted to live here would need to bring wholesome skills, or learn some, or live cheap, or have money. Or some combination. Though people do commute to good jobs in hilo and kona. I'm speaking of community, not of taking vacations as "retreats," though that sort of thing is not out of the question, perhaps.

   I wonder if any here feel called to this sort of thing, community building from scratch and on the cheap. Not for show or as a model, but to enable folk to really live in peace and love our neighbor; neighbors who behave as neighbors ought, whom we naturally respect and who respect us. A relatively small group could serve to leaven a whole mass, if it is ready for it. Perhaps it is. 


   What do you think, bra?  (too far off topic? - <g>)


terry



"Long ago the prince of King Shuddodana taught
and the Golden Ascetic intimately received transmission.
It has been more than two thousand seven hundred years.
I, too, am a child of the Shakya family.
One robe, one bowl—totally clear:
Old man Vimalakirti once said,
“Give and receive food as you would give and receive dharma.”
I take his point.
Practicing solidly, who will not reach the year of the donkey?”

~ryokan


   

   
   

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/18/18 10:40 AM as a reply to terry.
I grew up helping my father and uncle, who was a construction worker, build our barn and the addition to our little house. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of being taught how to use tools, to work hard by myself on whatever tasks they set me to doing, to work as a team. That scrappy work ethic has served me well both professionally and spiritually. There's something wonderful about working outside in the sunshine while listening to the radio--for us, the classic rock station (Led Zeppelin will always hold a special place in my heart). While of course the tasks of construction are themselves goal-oriented, most of one's time is spent in a process-oriented mode, simply focusing on the immediate task at hand. One becomes completely grounded in the senses, gets into flow states that require an integrated use of the entire body-mind. The experience is deeply satisfying at a primitive level. Humans have been building structures for shelter for many thousands of years and to do so is to to literally follow in the footsteps of countless ancestors, which is a powerful thing. 

But Terry is right that we shouldn't assume competency in other parts of people's lives just because they are good at getting the job done effectively while at work. Looking back with adult eyes on those childhood memories of family social gatherings, I can see the alcoholic tendencies. My uncle became addicted to Oxycontin after an injury and from what I hear he's probably moved on to heroin. Such stories as this are unfortunately quite common in the business.

So what can be learned while taking care not to romanticize? In the spiritual domain, we are each building a completely unique house although some of us may be following similar blueprints. And so the blueprints are useful so we do not inadvertently build mad, useless, dangerous structures like the Winchester House or simply never raise anything off the ground at all. Thus we have the maps, which can be helpful to check in with at times when it isn't clear what task we should be focusing our efforts on.

Effective construction teams have good site managers who set realistic goals and ensure there are enough resources to keep the project moving forward. Too much time pressure and shoddy workmanship results, accidents happen, workers get pissy and revolt because they can't properly do their jobs. Aim too low and people slack off or can't get into a groove, spend too much time socializing, resources get wasted, and nothing meaningful gets done. Pacing is important, as is a clear vision that the foundation must be built before the roof. A good leader will help set up conditions for people to put their heads down and work hard at the right tasks at the right time, get into flow states, end their shifts tired but satisfied at having accomplished something that feels significant. And so in the dharma it is helpful for most people to have teachers or mentors who can help them maintain forward momentum until they reach a point where they can work independently and simply rely on peers for inspiration to continue learning and growing.

A good work ethic for building a house is cheerful despite the sometimes painful heat of the sun, the sore muscles and blistered hands, the inevitable minor injuries or even major setbacks, the people you don't really care for but have to get along with, etc. Just as it is helpful on the spiritual path to be cheerful and continue focusing on the task at hand of dedicated daily practice (both on and off retreat) and the determined cultivation of virtue despite the dukkha nanas, the occasional or frequent loneliness, the difficult people, and the garden variety pains and challenges of the human condition. A house of any sort is useless if it cannot withstand the storms of life.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/18/18 11:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Yep.

Mihayi Csikszentmihayli

https://youtu.be/qpeIf8Zcriw
Flow in 7 steps

I'm sure some of those construction workers go into Flow at their jobs.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/18/18 12:08 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is the spirit I really appreciate in the meditation world also, and I have been thinking about how best to encourage that sort of spirit, one of competence, technical craft, professionalism, that gritty hardiness that the construction workers around me have been modeling so well, just related to the work of upgrading and renovating our hearts, minds, and bodies rather than a house.

Romanticized view?  emoticon


RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/18/18 12:36 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Brings me great memories of the retreat I had last year Jan 2017. The nun in Thailand strongly suggested I help with construction work with the temple extension and help her feed the 100 dogs at the temple. She and the teacher thought that was the most reasonable path considering the bad dark knights I've had.

It turned out to be one of the best retreats I had in my life. And, it wasn't "hardcore" in the sense I was meditating a ridiculous number of hours. Maybe, just 3-5 hours. Doing good, skilful work along with meditation gives good insight into how we can integrate the Dharma in daily life; which I think can be a major problem. 

I felt the eightfold path truly springs to life when right action, livelihood is also included prominently. I remember once Jack Kornfield was frustrated that Ajahn Chah made them work a lot and allowed them to meditate only 3 hours a day. Perhaps, Ajahn Chah had some wisdom (of course he did emoticon) .

Now, I'm a big fan of working reteats. Would gladly incorporate as one of the options if I teach the Dharma one day.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/19/18 2:48 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes, clearly, the view has romantic elements, idealized elements, a poetic vision to it. My pursuit of the dharma has always had some of that fun driving it, and clearly this is a common theme in others as well. Given various ways we can motivate, frame, and encourage the pursuit of the dharma, I will take those elements over some others commonly empolyed.

Still, the points about hard work, careful measurement, teamwork, focusing on the immediate task at hand, taking pride in one's work to make something better and in one's technical craft are all still very valid despite something of that romantic quality being there also.

As to addiction, yes, there was addiction there, to alcohol, food, sugar, nicotine, amphetamines, marijuana, tribalism, and possibly others not disclosed, but, were I to guess, the seemingly ever-present cocaine and opiates would likely be a part of the mix. We had some good discussions of those, of skillful lifestyle choices, of illness, arthritis, back pain, depression, anxiety and other similar topics, particularly when they found out that in my night gig I am a doctor. I enjoyed the discussions the same way I enjoy them when I have them in the emergency department, which is typically many times per day, and have spent 15 years working on my craft of how to encourage good outcomes while maintaining a feeling of warm friendly support rather than judgement.

That said, those addicted guys and one gal busted ass on the job and, were they to practice the dharma that way, would sail past most practitioners I meet with ease, hence the inspiration for the thread.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/19/18 11:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Yes, clearly, the view has romantic elements, idealized elements, a poetic vision to it. My pursuit of the dharma has always had some of that fun driving it, and clearly this is a common theme in others as well. Given various ways we can motivate, frame, and encourage the pursuit of the dharma, I will take those elements over some others commonly empolyed.

Still, the points about hard work, careful measurement, teamwork, focusing on the immediate task at hand, taking pride in one's work to make something better and in one's technical craft are all still very valid despite something of that romantic quality being there also.

As to addiction, yes, there was addiction there, to alcohol, food, sugar, nicotine, amphetamines, marijuana, tribalism, and possibly others not disclosed, but, were I to guess, the seemingly ever-present cocaine and opiates would likely be a part of the mix. We had some good discussions of those, of skillful lifestyle choices, of illness, arthritis, back pain, depression, anxiety and other similar topics, particularly when they found out that in my night gig I am a doctor. I enjoyed the discussions the same way I enjoy them when I have them in the emergency department, which is typically many times per day, and have spent 15 years working on my craft of how to encourage good outcomes while maintaining a feeling of warm friendly support rather than judgement.

That said, those addicted guys and one gal busted ass on the job and, were they to practice the dharma that way, would sail past most practitioners I meet with ease, hence the inspiration for the thread.

If that's how you feel, then I'm sure you'll squeeze it in somewhere that you also teach meditation ;) . They obviously have great merit to come across and get along with a high-level practitioner such as yourself. 

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/21/18 3:07 PM as a reply to Mettafore.
Curiously, my habit of hyper-compartmentalizing my various aspects that arose from long years of professional training and working a job where that sort of thing is generally not what is going on or expected means that I very rarely mention my meditation side except in meditational contexts or when people specifically ask about it.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/22/18 7:11 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel I really appreciate your take on this. Over the past three years I got involved with typewriter collectors around the world as a way of managing the loss of a community I had belonged to for many years. Many of these are Rush Limbaugh listener types in Red states. I was amazed to find (as I have in the Japan business world) hugely Dharmic values and ethics where I least expected, much as you describe with your construction working friends. There is so much to be learned from their professionalism and matter-of-fact crispness. I love this thread!

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/22/18 9:23 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

I have been reviewing my feelings towards the range that is seen, say, on the DhO, which is built to help a wide range of practitioners, from those struggling in the very hard end of what can go wrong to those rejoicing in what can go so right and everything in between. It has raised the question, “How to inject a bit more of the spirit of these construction workers into people’s meditation practice so their own internal upgrades are achieved with something like the same technical competence, steady progress, and skillful pride in a job well-done that has made this house so much better?”
Wonderful topic, thank you for sharing.  

I have been thinking similar things about Pragmatic Dharma Society.  Getting some traction in connecting the "DhO crowd" (as well as a surprisingly large range of other perspectives) in the meat-space in various cities & over video has made mild, yet existent, shadow sides obvious.  I can see, for instance, why mushroom culture started.

The root cause, I think, is that most people suck at accepting themselves.  Because they don't have good appreciation, gratitude & self-confidence, they don't have the space inside to take the proper orientation towards practice (which I think would be the one that you are describing).  I would suggest that the first step is methodically practicing optimism & gratitude off cushion to wire in those brain patterns.  Once the balance tips towards positive states, setting up a proper vigor in relation to insight practice should be easy.

I also want to plug that lots of magical (& magicKal) things have been happening in the in-person groups.  And that just getting people talking openly, in a group & in real time, has awesome effects towards inspiration & that blue-collar, boot-strapping attitude.

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/22/18 9:21 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:

 A sangha; just some folks who love the dhamma (dhyana, sila, dana) and like to share that love, without anyone trying to convince anyone of any special view. No need for a lot of organization, just individuals and families on their land coming together frequently for assistance, eating healthy food, games and exercise, meditation, satsang, and dhamma talks, perhaps some classes. That kind of thing. No obligations, no expectations, no assessments, no donations; not secret but not public; no egos, no dramas. A dream, right? Making music, crafts, food; doing only real things and living close to the rock. No one competing to get ahead. No one left too far behind. Smiles all around.

Hi terry,

If you would like help starting a sangha in Hawi devoted to open discussion of their dhamma practice, let me know.  The best way is to email me at seattlespuds@gmail.com.  We can help you by identifying platforms to communicate (chat apps, online groups, etc), finding the people to meet with through advertising & looking at meeting places as well.  I haven't researched the demographics/population in your area, but I always think it is worth a try.  

-Noah

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/23/18 9:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
So Dan, did you see the housebuilder?

hehehe

Also, as someone that has done a short stint working in structural steel - 2 months on the roof for a hospital, I saw heaven and hell. Heaven: team work, the end of the day "what did you to today?" (points to a large segment of building), heaven is also lifting heavy steel again and again "may this make people happy, may people at this hospital be happy" and so on. A simple job done well. Hard work, you go home sleepy. Hell: 99% male aggressiveness means sometimes you go home and there's a lot of random agressions to debrief from and talking behind peoples back, racism, etc - the benefit of solid hard work is you get to keep some of your mind to yourself, unlike, in say, Advertising emoticon, but in reality, there's also politics and stuff that can cloud that up too. Literal stupidity causing things to be more unsafe than they are. The injuries. The permanent hearing damage from the rattle gun that means I have to ask my partner to repeat what they just said to me (I'm 31), the fact people think I'm thick/stupid because of this. The risk of death.

Self-diagnosed stages thing - Dan if I can use your language - this is during some dark night, post A&P thing, probs, deciding "I don't know what I'm doing so I'll just do something" ... sitting on the pillow is hard. Structural Steel,,, hmmm... that'd be easy. HA HA HA (I'm university educated and just through with all that shit)

I still reckon structural steel would be the best job in the world with your 2 - 3 closest friends, and a reasonable level of intelligence (your life is in others hands on a daily basis, and if you're not best friends to start, you will be, if you're in the right crew.)

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/24/18 1:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, if you really want to develop such a community why not start a center?

A team of builders still needs a common plan, so that would have to be made. Any group of people needs a leader, or leaders to form a plan. And friction between members will be part of any community, so expect that too. 

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
3/26/18 5:10 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
terry:

 A sangha; just some folks who love the dhamma (dhyana, sila, dana) and like to share that love, without anyone trying to convince anyone of any special view. No need for a lot of organization, just individuals and families on their land coming together frequently for assistance, eating healthy food, games and exercise, meditation, satsang, and dhamma talks, perhaps some classes. That kind of thing. No obligations, no expectations, no assessments, no donations; not secret but not public; no egos, no dramas. A dream, right? Making music, crafts, food; doing only real things and living close to the rock. No one competing to get ahead. No one left too far behind. Smiles all around.

Hi terry,

If you would like help starting a sangha in Hawi devoted to open discussion of their dhamma practice, let me know.  The best way is to email me at seattlespuds@gmail.com.  We can help you by identifying platforms to communicate (chat apps, online groups, etc), finding the people to meet with through advertising & looking at meeting places as well.  I haven't researched the demographics/population in your area, but I always think it is worth a try.  

-Noah


aloha noah,

   Thanks for responding.

   Hawi and all of the surrounding small towns already have their own buddhist temples, the hongwanji. During the summer each temple hosts a bon dance open to the public on different weekends. It is very ethnic, though. On kauai everyone went to the bon dances, it was a pan-ethnic picnic, food and games party with an open house at the temple and of course the bon dance, with the men playing the big drums and the ladies with the pillows on their butts, all in costume.

   There is also a retreat center right here in north kohala with bona fide lifelong haole meditation teachers; they hold retreats in thailand and can arrange things here I guess but it must be quite pricey. Sometimes I think of looking them up, we have all lived in this small community for decades, but I wonder if I would have anything in common with them. Just an old hippie, eh? with old hippie ideas.

   Each of these groups, it seems to me, have solidified into their own images of what their religion consists of. I can't help bringing up materials from the whole range of human culture, which makes me non-buddhist as much as buddhist. I don't want to join their sangha unless they want to join mine. Like dylan said, "I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours." I realize I am dismissing these folk without ever even meeting them, but they must stay pretty aloof from the folks I know if I haven't met them by now. 

   The demographics in north kohala, meaning essentially hawi and kapaau, are 90% asian and pacific islander. These folk are either already buddhists or have no apparent interest. I have a good friend, an elderly japanese lady, who converted many years ago from buddhism to LDS. One church being about the same as another. Buddhists without a practice, you might say.

   Ocean view is completely different from kohala. They are at opposite ends of a big island, nearly 100 miles apart. Land in kohala costs literally at least twenty times as much as in OV. Kohala is where the resorts are; many local folk in hawi and kapaau work at the resorts, or are farmers or fishermen, salt of the earth but very self-sufficient. In ocean view people are mostly unemployed or underemployed, most living on the cheap and many collecting social security or welfare.

   I find that over the years haoles with money have moved into our communities and overwhelmed them culturally, smothering what they came here to enjoy. This has been going on for hundreds of years and is going on today. Each of these mainland retirees feels completely entitled to live the good life at the kamaainas expense, because they made their money in podunk being the best insurance salesman in the tri-county area and they deserve it, without the least doubt. One day while I was selling jewelry under the banyan tree in hawi, a youngish woman introduced herself to me as a new resident. Asked what she did, she told me she was a "life coach." I'm thinking, that's what this community needs, a haole life coach fresh off the boat from the mainland. Perhaps she was a very good life coach (she didn't buy any of my jewelry).

   Between the fossilized buddhism of the hongwanji and the slick picture postcard haole-operated retreat center, I only feel like a buddhist at all posting on line, and practicing by myself. I don't want to go to thailand and I don't want to dress up in costumes and bull my way into an ethnic conclave. After 30 years of living in districts over 90% asian, I don't actually see myself as "white" at all; really white people have an unhealthy fishbelly look to locals, like they are unfinished, unbaked; doughy. It isn't that I don't feel I fit in - I don't care to fit in, I want to be rinzai's "true man without rank,"  what I am calling here a "dharma misfit." It is about waking up, after all. Awareness of impermanence.

   I have thought of trying to set up some sort of "dharma misfit" club in ocean view, but I don't currently know anyone else interested, and don't want to spearhead the thing all by myself.  Something low key and unstructured. It was not my "needs" I was thinking of, anyway. I have been realizing that I don't have any needs, really; accepting without question the concept of having needs is the substance of delusion. 

   Your offer to help me organize a sangha in hawi is a good one, thank you; I assume that organizing a sangha in ocean view would be the same. Both kohala and ocean view are likely very different from any community you have dealt with before; and worlds apart. Now that I think of it, there are no churches that I know of in ocean view, the world's largest subdivision. I just read in the paper that suicide is the leading cause of accidental death in hawaii. Due to hopelessness, they say. And the highest rate of suicide in a community is found in the hawaiian fishing village of milolii, just down the road from ocean view. Poor, depressed, unchurched; and the new people who move in are attracted by the cheap land and lack of regulation, so there are all types from arrow straight retirees to lowlifes and mexicans ('some, I assume, are good people').  I find the place stimulating and a great relief from the air of entitlement wafting into kohala. Many are pathetic, sad and broken, though. The dhamma could be a great blessing to them.

   So, as far as "opening a discussion of their dhamma practice," other than ethnics and professionals I don't even know of anyone here with a dhamma practice. I was wondering if there were people - any sort of people - willing to chuck the desire for advancement in "society" for a simplified way of life based on meditation and actual encounter with like-minded fellows. In the spirit of those who retire from the world for the vita contempliva. (I've been reading 'the desert fathers.')  And there are the mondos where a monk will chew on one phrase for eight years. 

   I don't really have any more specific ideas, than what I have mentioned. I'll take you up on the offer to email you, and perhaps you can fill me in on resources. Or how to be a resource.

   Sometimes I have to reassure (or reorientate) myself that it is not all talk. All the time, actually.

mahalos, terry




"On a grass pillow,
my journey’s lodging
changes night by night.
Dreams of my village
remain.”

~ryokan

RE: Midwestern construction workers and the dharma
Answer
4/2/18 3:50 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
This is the spirit I really appreciate in the meditation world also, and I have been thinking about how best to encourage that sort of spirit, one of competence, technical craft, professionalism, that gritty hardiness that the construction workers around me have been modeling so well, just related to the work of upgrading and renovating our hearts, minds, and bodies rather than a house.

I have been reviewing my feelings towards the range that is seen, say, on the DhO, which is built to help a wide range of practitioners, from those struggling in the very hard end of what can go wrong to those rejoicing in what can go so right and everything in between. It has raised the question, “How to inject a bit more of the spirit of these construction workers into people’s meditation practice so their own internal upgrades are achieved with something like the same technical competence, steady progress, and skillful pride in a job well-done that has made this house so much better?”



aloha dan,


   It may be that the best help we might give to dhamma practicioner to " 'inject more of the spirit of these construction workers'" is assistance in finding "right livelihood." I expect this would involve encouraging a combination of reviving old crafts and reducing the expenses of living through the embrace of simplicity. By example, initially. If people insisted on right livelihood and were willing to live simply, society would be transformed - because "it" is "us."

   The work itself is what is important, done well the values follow. 

terry


here's a bit from joanna macy, "world as lover, world as self," pp 103-104:


quote:


   The inherent right to worthwhile work is reflected in the concept of "right livelihood,"  a requirement of the Buddha's Eightfold Path. According to the teaching of dependent co-arising, the work a person performs not only expresses his character, but modifies it in turn. High value, therefore, must be placed on the nature of this work. Instead of being considered as a necessary evil to which one is condemned, or as a "disutility," as in the eyes of classical economists, work is a vehicle for the organization and expression of our deepest values.

   Meaningful employment is more important than the goods it produces, as the Kutadanta Sutta suggests. Unlike consumption, it links the person to his or her fellow beings in reciprocal relationship and expresses the interdependence which underlies her existence. The value of her work, then, is beyond monetary measure. Labor policies and production plans that view this work in terms of pay or profit alone degrade it and rob it of its meaning. High wages, high dividends, high production or high unemployment payments cannot compensate for the human loss that occurs when assembly-line techniques or joblessness deprive a worker of acquiring and enjoying her skills.


unquote