Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some new thoughts

So it seems I've been a dormant blogger for quite awhile now. Part of it was time, traveling, feeling completely overwhelmed. But the big part of it was having nothing to say, or in a better sense, wondering why anybody would be interested in anything I have to say. And another part of it was not really having a direction or purpose for my blog. Well, it can't just be about my life, 'cause even though the dogs are always amused by me, to mere humans my life is pretty boring. Wake up, eat breakfast, grade, teach, eat lunch, teach, grade, eat dinner, grade, watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, sleep. If I were to have a blog about my life, I would win the most boring blogger award!

So this blog has to be about everybody else, just as Mr. Buddha would have suggested. The new focus is to put the events of the day (mine, yours, or anybody else's) into a Buddhathought that people might find interesting (at least my friends will find interesting; my concerned students will ask me if I've found Jesus yet). And just in case nobody finds my Buddhathoughts interesting, I'll supply a picture of the dogs, since they are instant smile-makers.

So here's my Buddhathought today:
So many political blogs seem to be mad at someone. I know I've had to deal with my own anger issues when it comes to the state of things.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Am I having fun yet?

When I was young, my dad would come home from work each day and exclaim "Everybody wants a piece of me!" That's how I've been feeling lately. This blog thing has been a strange thing for me to cope with. I can't believe that people are interested in my little musings, yet people have been asking me when my next entry is coming. Okay, for the next few weeks, I'm going to try to write regularly. It would seem that somebody out there cares...

The past few weeks have been full of ups and downs, as our lives always are. High points have been the naming ceremony for Aaron and Priya's baby, which was really wonderful. Her uncle came to town, and did a whole Hindu thing, with red dots and blessings and stuff.

Also, my birthday was celebrated on Tuesday. I took Scruffy and Ginny to Fairfield for hiking and Indian food. That may explain Scruffy's gas problems! In the evening, a lot of people surprised me at Spazio and they bought a giant cake. What did I do to deserve such friends?

Of course, I followed the big anti-war protest in Washington last week. I wanted to go, like I went to NYC last year. But I really don't think yelling and marching are going to have much of an effect. In fact, I bet that fewer than half of my students even knew that it took place. They are all stressed out about keeping up their GPAs. Note to students: Life is too short, and learning is too much fun to be so stressed! For those of you who missed it, I've enclosed some pics, stolen from the United for Peace and Justice web cite. Okay, my students and everyone else should check out

Another high point was the article in the Index about our Dharma group that came out today. It is a nice article, although I don't like the picture of myself! I guess it forces me to contemplate Impermanence (where did my hair go!).

So I'll conclude with a little mini-Sutta from the Buddha. It's taken from Sharon Salzberg's web-course on the Brahma Viharas; an excellent course from one of my favorite teachers:

"Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with loving-kindness, likewise the second, the third, and the fourth directions; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity, and free from distress."

See, I'm really trying to pervade the entire world with Lovingkindness, not just the people who don't piss me off. When you can open up to all, and understand that everyone in the world is afraid just like you, the possibilities are endless. Marc

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The buddha and the bicycle

So friends, a short intro to Mindfulness. You know how we go about our lives with our minds attaching to this thing and that thing, instantly digesting new stimuli, and reacting with emotions like anger, joy, happiness, boredom, intrigue, or whatever? One of the key things that the Buddha taught was that these emotions are all temporary, conditioned by other things, and if we follow them too closely, we will close ourselves off from our inner Buddha nature.

This week the boss was telling me scary things about how new changes for Truman will change the way we teach here. My first reaction was fear, followed by anger, then followed by the idea that a. The boss is always negative, and b. The unknown is always scary, so c. Why should I let my fears get the best of me?

Then today I went for a biking meditation. Past the soybean fields, not thinking anything, just focusing on pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, nice soybeans, pedal, pedal, pedal, nice barn. When a thought about work or relationships would pop into my head, instead of getting scared or exciting, I would just think, "oh, here comes that thought again." Now pedal, pedal, pedal, hill coming up, pedal, pedal.

That's Mindfulness. It grows stronger with meditation practice.

For my students: This week it's Native American music, Louis Armstrong, and 13th century organum (not in each class!). The only thing that this music has in common is also very important: 99% of the world doesn't know about it, or is misinformed. First, be thrilled with learning the truth about this amazing music; then be prepared to tell others.

"May I live each moment for the benefit of all"....Me

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hi! I'm back!

Hello friends! Well, the last few days I've kind of been speechless, except I don't know the exact terms for not knowing what to blog. I could use some excuses, such as I've been getting back to the whole school routine, and I've had a big proposal to write that took alot of my time. And of course that would all be true. But I've also been sad and angry, and like a good Buddha practitioner, being mindful of my sadness and anger.

This is a pic that has been circling the internet. Taken last Tuesday (remember, the hurricane hit Monday morning). It says so many things about where we are as a country, and where we need to go. So I've been wondering about the things that I can do now to help people, and to help create change.

Yelling doesn't do any good. Protesting doesn't do much good either. I know these things from my own experiences. Being present, having an open heart, understanding that all things are temporary, and that pain is a part of life, but suffering can be overcome, and that we can change the world more profoundly that we can conceive, simply with a bright heart. And turning off the media when all that is arising within me is more anger.

The Buddha said "Anger does not extinquish anger. Only compassion extinquishes anger." In other words, anger and compassion are both contagious. We are constantly passing on our emotions through our actions, and our speech. What will you pass on? Marc

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Time to get serious

Well, the bliss of non-work is over. It is indeed time to get serious. I didn't achieve all of my goals for the summer (lose 300 pounds and get Bush impeached), but I think I will cherish what I did accomplish. I think that my biggest accomplishment reached fruition Friday night, playing at the Dukum with Monk Prophet (gotta talk to Mark about that name...)

For my students: Nowhere is the phenomenon of karma more visible than in the study of music history. The Buddha said that everything is interdependant, everything is conditioned by outside forces. That's what karma is. Thus, you find yourself in the 21st century studying people whose lives have lead to your own. Want to know more about who you are? You are who you are at this very moment because of every life that has ever been lived on the planet, including the lives and contributions of those people we will study this semester. What will your contribution to this evolution be? I can't decide that for you, but I can tell you that the more positive your actions are, the more powerful you will be.

For Kirksville Dharma, and anyone else who is interested. I'm going to post the first verses of the Dhammapada, the best known (at least in the West) of the Buddha's writings. If you know much about Buddhism, you know these verses, but they still need to be remembered, and repeated constantly (I have them as part of my screen saver):

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a corrupted heart,
then suffering follows you —
as the wheel of the cart,
the track of the ox
that pulls it.

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart,
made of the heart.
If you speak or act
with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

Yep, that says it all. Any questions?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wow, Jennorama did a great job on my blog! As my vaca ends, it's now time to blog in earnest. I had a most excellent time in Cincy, spending time with my family and my friends Steve and Linda, who are eargerly awaiting the arrival of their baby. I went to the Kentucky State fair, to watch the racing pigs, and yesterday I went to a Reds game. Steve and I attempted to test Budweiser's Axiom, which states that one cannot become intoxicated on stadium beer if it is drunk while sitting in 95 degree heat (the ratio of beer-to-sweat allows for unlimited consumption). The experiment failed, as neither test subject was able to withstand the heat for more than one inning.

I also purchased a hugh effects box for my guitar, so that now I can sound like either Joe Pass or Pat Methany, depending on my mood. Look for me to play at the Dukum and other 'Ville spots soon.

So, with being on vaca, and my family's atrocious dietary habits (my dad hasn't had a vegetable in 50 years), I've been working on Eating Meditation. One can apply the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness (being present with each moment) to all facets of one's life, and Eating Meditation is very good, especially for chronic dieters who hate giving up their favorite food. Here is how it works:

Get some food. It can be any food that you like. This meditation is great for the cravings of forbidden food.

Eliminate all sensory things that are not your food. Turn off the tv, put down the reading material. Shut up your partner. Focus on the food.

Look at the food. Feel your hunger. How hungry are you? Do you really need to eat?

Put a bite of food in your mouth. Immediately put down the utensile. Taste, smell, and feel every microbe of the food, as if it is your last bite on earth. Focus completely on the bite (how often are we not even paying attention to the taste of food when we eat?) Yummmm!

After swallowing, take a deep breath and smile. Are you still hungry? Repeat this excersise slowly, until you are no longer hungry. Focus completely on the food, put down your utensile after each bite, feel the food empowering you to be a stronger person.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Here in Cincy

At the moment me and the doggies are in Cincinnati, spending a few days with my family before the semester begins. There's lots to do here, including the zoo, museums, and going to a Reds game. I don't care how sucky they are, I'm a Reds and Bengals fan 'til I die.

I'm going to try to go to a few restaurants as well. Problem is, nobody in my family can deal with any other spice than salt. So I'll be eating thai and indian alone.

I went to a meditation group yesterday. They were all real nice, but older than me. The dharma talk was about death, so that was depressing. I offered up one phrase from Pema Chodron that I really like, and I'll share it with you now

"Since death is certain
But the time of death is uncertain
What is most important at this moment?"

Think about that one. It helps me with everything from controlling my temper to refraining from the extra cookie that I don't need. Cheers! Marc