Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Beatles Were Wrong: Love Is Not All You Need

"You should have told your mothers to have aborted you!"

That was just one of the insults hurled, along with "Satan get away from us!", by members of Pro Life Philippines at supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill.  Click here to read the article (where I got the video below).

I easily feel so morally superior to people who - well, people who act like they do in the video.  "Oh I'm a Zen Buddhist, I practice the Middle Path, I sit Shikantaza zazen, I am above all that drama!" is a regular feature in my mind.  This is one of my weaknesses.  So bear in mind that while I am pointing out the obvious hypocrisy of some of the members of Pro Life Philippines I am doing so in the knowledge that I am also a fallible person with my own moral failings.

Look: I watched the video and I read the article.  I even read the comments.  I am outraged.  And yet, even as I feel outraged, even as I feel the urge to send a big FUCK YOU to Pro Life Philippines President Eric Manalang, the CBCP, the Roman Catholic Church, etc.  I also realize that we're all just sentient beings trying our best to live our lives in a good way.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that despite this fact we can't all "just get along."  Yes, there is no "us" over "here" vs. a "them" over "there".  Still, we often find ourselves "here" and others "there".  It is sad but true:  the Beatles were wrong: Love is NOT all you need.  

We all have love.  Catholics have love.  Buddhists have love.  Atheists have love.  So why is it that we still find ourselves fighting each other?

If love were all we needed, the Eightfold Path would have been unnecessary.  Buddha would have simply said, "Just love."  No need for Right View, just love (because love is blind, anyway).  No need for Right Intention - just love (never mind that the road to hell is paved with good but unskillful intentions).  No need for Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood - just love, man and everything you say and do will be right!  No need for Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration - Just loooove.

No man.  Love is not all we need.

It helps - and I believe it helps a lot (as Marvin Gaye sang, "Only love can conquer hate).  But it's not absolutely all we need.

Sorry, Beatles fans.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Being A Daruma Doll

I confess that I have not practiced in several days.   No Zen, no chanting the Heart Sutra, no Metta meditation, no yoga.  Nothing, nada, zilch.  So why blog about this?  It's my way of pushing myself back to the yoga mat and makeshift zafu.  I figured maybe the knowledge that someone will read this will somehow pressure me to practice again.

Although now that I think of it, this effort of blogging for the sake of motivating myself to sit zazen could be better used to actually sit zazen.   Still, I'm here typing so might as well make the best of it by continuing.

The thing about Zen practice is that even when I'm not practicing that is still considered a part of the practice.  I'm not trying to rationalize or excuse my lack of practice, by the way.  It is inexcusable for me not to practice because I only need to sit Zen for about half an hour and there are twenty-fucking'-four hours in a day.  But this struggle to motivate myself is also the practice.  Because when I miss another zazen session and tell myself, "Tomorrow I'll do it" or "later I'll sit" THAT is what I need to practice with.  When I feel lazy I need to practice with that.  When I catch myself berating myself for not practicing, that is what I need to practice with.  So no, I'm not talking about making excuses.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I'm talking about constant practice.  I'm talking about constant living.  About constantly putting one foot in front of the other.  And about falling down and getting up again and again.  I'm talking about being a daruma doll.

That's enough writing for today.  Time to practice.  As always.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sonic Landmarks

My wife and I recently had a conversation about a particular quirk I have, which is basically my mysterious (well, mysterious to her) ability to recall songs, the bands or artists who played them, and how old I was when I first heard them. We had this conversation over several bottles of beer while watching my sister's ex-boyfriend's rock band play. She expressed her bemusement as I strained to hear her over the sounds of 90's rock and grunge. And so I did my best to explain.
And my explanation was that I tend to measure or track my life in terms of songs I've heard. Every song I've ever heard is like a milestone, a distinct sonic landmark that I associate with certain periods of my life. When I hear, for instance, Radiohead's Creep I'm thirteen years old again, and I can almost see my old classroom with my old classmates. I can feel the awkwardness, the shyness, the desire to be cool. When I listen to the Dave Matthews Band, I'm back in my college days hanging out with my friends as we drink and pass the joints around, getting stoned and wasted. I hear a Nirvana song and I remember the summer of '95 when I rediscovered Nirvana (rediscovered because Kurt Cobain had already been dead for a few years) after seeing a copy of the band's biography. I remember wishing I was cool and punk as Kurt, Chris and Dave. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't end up like Kurt, but I still like listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit.
The point is, I cannot imagine my life without all these songs. I guess it's the musician in me - that part of me that got hooked to music whether it's hearing it or playing it. Music, after all, was my first mistress, my first lover, who seduced me in my adolescence and has been my constant companion ever since. But I didn't tell my wife that. I didn't want to make her jealous.