Archive for November, 2012

“Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child.” ~ Buddha~

I reflected fondly as I read Kari Huus’ article of Edwarda and Kaye O’Bara of Florida.

Wednesday, Edwarda O’Bara died after 42 years in a coma. Joe and Kaye O’Bara cared for Edwarda until their deaths; Joe died in 1976 and Kaye in 2008. Edwarda’s sister, Colleen O’Bara, cared for her sister during the remaining four years.

The only reason I knew of the O’Baras’ was because of Dr Wayne Dyer’s book entitled “A Promise Is A Promise: An Almost Unbelievable Story of a Mother’s Unconditional Love and What It Can Teach Us”. Basically until her own death, Kaye O’Bara kept her promise to never leave her daughter. She fed her daughter every two hours and given her insulin every four hours, without fail! In fact, Kaye O’Bara slept next to her daughter in a chair.

In quoting Wayne Dyer:

Kaye knows that she is not alone. She knows that her daughter is also participating in the way that she has chosen. This knowing has permitted Kaye to serve unconditionally for over a quarter of a century, and it has made visible the divine intervention of the Holy Family.

But even more than this is the fact that all of us who read of Kaye’s devotion and unflappable service are enriched immeasurable.

In the context of love being the art of giving and asking nothing in return, we are all assured that this kind of love is not just for fiction writers or reserved for those who have been deified. This kind of love is here and now. It is taking place among us, while the rest of us go about the business of our daily lives.

One of the greatest forms of love can be considered in that of a mother for her child. In its spiritualized form, love can draw its inspiration from either the child or the mother. Yet the spiritual love that looks for guidance to the love of a mother for her child uplifts itself to the ideal of the pure fount of all safety, welfare and spiritual health. It is this latter kind which the Buddha takes as the basis for his teaching of universal love.

Kaye O’Bara challenges us to constantly remind ourselves to be rid of afflictions, to treat everyone with respect and gratitude, and to shower the world with great love together.

Our deepest need is to find the look of love beaming back at us. As long as we feel this, we are better able to love ourselves and others. When you can shine, simply by speaking of another and the touch of a hand is very powerful. It is in these moments of communion that touch us all.

Giving Thanks

Dear Ms. K:

As the waves of the Atlantic rolled in upon Ocean Beach, MD, I served Thanksgiving Dinner to that in need.  Orcas Island, WA, or St. Louis, for that matter seemed liked a million miles away. Here, in the lonely area we served meals, the rich and poor found equal footing – each family, each individual life was washed away Sandy’s relentless waves.

Sipping coffee under the hue of candles as they struggled against the light breeze, I saw something phenomenal. Friends and families gathered, hugged their children, clung to each other’s heat and enjoyed the simply moment of just being together. For better or for worse, they shared thanks, they laughed, cried, played football in the setting sun.

In truth, they were all tremendously richer than I. Whether they understood or not, the clung to the love of their life and refused to surrender. Almost as if they spit into the wind of adversity and carried each other, embraced life and found renewal in one another. At that very moment, I understood Christ’s words:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

The foundation was never a rock. The rock was love. He hath love that which is given and received in Christ has found the ‘rock’ of life. This ‘rock’ will carry one another into every bit of living and every bit of grace. Why did it take me so long to understand this? Why did I not see this before? Why have I been so arrogant?

Someone once said, “…the real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”  Whatever friendships were built, I seemed to destroy, and they stagnated or died. It’s amazing to learn how much of my individuality was wrapped in my professional life.  But here, this weekend, I learned that when all the distractions are gone, I can be a terrific person.

So for this Thanksgiving, so far from home, I give thanks. As it is written in 1Thessalonians 5:18; “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I give thanks to Christ, for keeping you near. You are with me always.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas brings mixed emotions. On the one hand, I adore the holiday lights, people seemingly enjoying the spirit of life, giving thanks, gifts and mutual love. On the other hand, when you’ve been told to shut up, don’t say, don’t laugh, but praise God, then I forever remember endless years of searching for the former … but in the end left empty, drained and unforgiven. The latter, has been my life for the past twelve (12) years.

If any one quote from theScroogefits my life it would be the Ghost of Jacob Marley:

I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it, link by link and yard by yard, while on Earth, and now I will never be rid of it …

True to the statement, I do wear the chain I forged in life. And damn it’s long, heavy steel weighs upon my soul that I barely breathe, often drowning in my own sins. My skin is burned from indentation, as if I slowly tattooed my soul over the course of thirty years. Thus, as I near my own death, I see hell’s angels cheering of my demise and God’s angels turned in abhor of my sight.

Again, I walk alone in a sea of many. Nothing near, a child hiding from hurt of others, hoping someday an angel of love would find me. Hiding within me, the bone chilling cold buffets the skin and I shudder against the world’s isolation. Icicles adhere to my beard, drips amongst perspiration from each breath.

Having lived among bitter, small-minded people my inner soul fills with rage at perfectness of God. Over the course of many years, I have been told not enjoy Christmas, not joke and laugh; to be told to forgive, but witness how many don’t; to yearn for the love of your life, but never to experience it … ever again.

Knowing that God has abandoned me, I can only refer to Johnny Cash:

I learn from my mistakes. It’s a very painful way to learn, but without pain, the old saying is, there’s no gain. I found that to be true in my life. You miss a lot of opportunities by making mistakes, but that’s part of it: knowing that you’re not shut out forever and there’s a goal you can reach.”

In the ‘Scrooge,’ The Ghost of Christmas Present said:

There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you’re not here any more.”

In truth, I hate repeating insanity, repeating the same process year after year and expecting a different result. While I am not suicidal, I do in truth, feel much like George Bailey in that maybe this world will be better off without me.

I only wish God allows my heart to silently stop as I sleep and dream of something better.

Presidential Gifts

According to Mitt Romney, “The president’s campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift,” Romney said, citing immigration proposals aimed at Hispanics and free contraception coverage that appealed to young women. “He made a big effort on small things.”

Romney said that the president bought young people by reduced student loan interest, paying off young women by giving them free birth control. Hispanics benefited by amnesty to the children of illegal “aliens.” Blacks were bought off by food stamps and extended unemployment compensation. Additionally, Hispanics also cashed in on Obamacare, with each Hispanic getting a $10,000 gift from Obamacare.

As Republicans bemoan their loss and try to find their compass, I can only affirm that while Republicans may never get my vote, they may actually be America’s soulmate.

As Dr. Wayne Dyer phrased it, “Your soulmate is the person you cannot stand.” He claimed, contrary to popular belief, nobody needs more of what they already are; that type of relationship IS short-lived. Dr. Dyer claims people who inflict the most challenges on us (i.e. personal lessons we must learn), the ones we cannot avoid but must learn, are our true soulmate.

So do I believe Republicans are Christians? My presumption is yes. Do I believe that all Christians are Christ-like? No!

But this leads me to a broader question: who in your life exhibits the most Christ-like qualities? Has it been someone who stayed with you? The stranger who helped you? Someone who took care of you when you’re sick? Full of compassion and generous with their own life?  As Father Braun of Washington University CSC phrased it, “…the most Christ-like are those people who told you the truth so clearly you wanted to kill him/her for because of it. “

If there’s one thing my former true love Ms. K taught, it’s this: true compassion can only be seen from forgiveness. All the pain others cause is real, but if you take the time to get to know the person, see what they are about, you can see the pain in others, that there’s always another side.

When asked what he had observed as the greatest deficiency among American Christians, Helmut Thielicke replied, “ They have an inadequate view of suffering.” Seems hard to argue, as further recorded by Philip Yancey, “One-third of the world went hungry last night.”  Additionally, the ‪ranks of America’s poor edged up last year to a high of 49.7 million.

Thus, in light of all I have written, I simply tell both Republicans and Democrats that if you want to reach inside the soul of America and ‘connect,’ you must be willing to see their pain.

Take Alabama. The 2007 census indicated Alabama had the 10th highest poverty rate, putting it ahead of Mississippi and included the District of Columbia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas.

  • In 2010, 9,586 children were victims of abuse or neglect in Alabama, a rate of 8.5 per 1,000 children, representing a 15.6% increase from 2009. Of these children, 37.6% were neglected, 50.0% were physically abused, and 22.5% were sexually abused.
  • In 2010, 13 children in Alabama died as a result of abuse or neglect.
  • In 2010, 5,350 children in Alabama lived apart from their families in out-of-home care, compared with 6,894 children in 2009.
  • In 2010, 1,892 of the children living apart from their families were age 5 or younger, and 951 were 16 or older.
  • The total number of individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Alabama increased from 43,326 in 2009 to 51,205 in 2010, an increase of 18.2%.

For all those politicians searching for answers, there’s no buying the poor. There’s not enough ‘food stamps,’ condoms, healthcare, reduced student loans that compensate for abuse or poverty. People do not want to live in poverty. To think such is plain ignorant.

Rather, I simply challenge Republican and Democrat alike to tell me how your policies will positively impact the average everyday worker. How will your policies positively impact the poor and make all American’s life better? If you do that, you will truly be the soulmate never seen in our lifetime.

True North

To find our way through the long and lonely nights, we all require a compass, that one pivotal thing that allows us to see ‘True North.’

From a personal perspective, all of us need a ‘True North,’ a way to orient our lives to a higher power other than ourselves.  There are so many things that have tremendous calling power on our decisions and we constantly fight for our minds, hearts and body. Like a ship at sea, all of us can easily be strewn here or there, even upon life’s most difficult rocks.  We can become beaten down until we drown or are cast over the proverbial edge.

Is there anything that provides us guidance? From a Biblical perspective, Matthew 22:37 phrases it this way:

You shall love the Lord God with all your heart all your mind and all your body.”

This means there can only be one ‘True North.’  Alright, sounds easy enough, but do we only do what God asks or do we do only that which the world requires? Do all of us who claim a faith in a higher power ask ourselves “Is what I’m doing of God or Mammon? Of selfishness or heart? From Love or from weakness?”

To all who love conditionally, there is a higher power. It’s not you. For all who struggle, that higher power is ‘Love.’ True love is the higher power. It’s not your father, your mother, brother, sister or lover, it’s always been something greater. This higher power of love always stays true and will always help you stay true.

When down and out, we must reach for that something wiser and clearer than the chemical reactions of our own brain.  It’s that truth, the one person, that one form of love that’s willing to sacrifice its life for you, to give it all up for you. It is that love to which you are called to grab onto and hold. That form of love transcends the swirling emotions, goes beyond the chemical reaction, reaches deeper into your heart and states, “I am the way.” That form of love is your guide, your leader and soul mate.

And this higher power of love willingly restores us to our sanity, allows us to be led, allows the deep inner healer we all search and deserve. Reach through all the crap and crud, open the door of your heart and allow this love to lead you, to believe in you, free you and transform you.

As a Buddhist there is another path. It’s a path that rises far above and beyond arguments, divisiveness, hatred and selfishness. It starts with learning how to be a good human being, learning how to live with loving-kindness, respect and harmony for all of creation. There is an essential radiance that permeates and supports my existence. Some would simply call that radiance God, or and aspect of God, but it is not the name that matters. What really matters is that we allow this glorious purity, regardless of what we call it, to manifest in our lives as compassion and loving-kindness. That is our true nature, and that is our highest calling.

Find this true inner life of love and follow it.

Who gave more?

I attended Catholic mass with several friends this past Sunday.

On of the reading was Luke 21:1-4. Here we are presented with a destitute widow making an offering in the Temple. Rich people made a great show of giving large amounts while this woman gives only a tiny sum of money — all she has, probably.

So the question was, “Who gave more?” And more so, have we, those who sat in the pew, given all that we could to life, to each other and to God?

Sitting there I thought  of the final scene of the movie ‘For Love of the Game,’ where Billy Chapel sat talking to Jane Aubrey at the airport:

I used to believe–I mean, I still do … that if you give something your all, everything you have, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose … as long as you risked everything, put everything out there.

And I’ve done that.

I did it in my life. I did it … with the game. But not with you.

In truth, much of my life has been sham. Even when married, I gave my all to work and to my desires, but never to my wife or my true love.  In this area, I can unequivocally state, I never gave my all to anyone.

As Julian Green quoted, “The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.” So as a Buddhist, don’t worry about the money you give. Instead, search your heart, discover your world 
and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

When thinking about the Republican loss November 6th, it is important to note the Republican Party lost its compass. The Republicans lost their ability to directly connect to U.S. constituents as a whole. The United States demography has change significantly and Republicans failed to understand those to whom they serve.

For example, the party platform, in and of itself, details exactly why they lost:

  • Do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs.
  • Pledges to reform the tax code to make it easier for businesses to generate more capital and create more jobs.
  • Reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations.
  • Would extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. It says the party would strive to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It also would work to repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.
  • Constitutional amendments to balance the federal budget and require a super majority for any tax increases.
  • Affirmed the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage.
  • Focused too heavily on voter fraud, “Voter fraud is a political poison,” the platform says. It praises legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.
  • Opposed legislation intended to restrict Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the assault weapons ban passed during the Clinton presidency.
  • All unborn children have a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.
  • Supported a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice.
  • Opposed amnesty in any form for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it.
  • The Republican president would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the health care act pushed through by President Barack Obama and that Republican victories in November would guarantee that the act is never implemented.
  • Republicans support consumer choice, including home schooling, local innovations such as single-sex classes, full-day school hours and year-round schools.
  • Renew their call for replacing family planning programs for teens “with abstinence education.

As Thomas Freidman, quoted in his recent op-ed, ‘Hope and change, part two:’

No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way, but here’s my guess: In the end, it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country and that he had to do it with a Republican Party that, in its gut, did not want to meet him halfway but wanted him to fail — so that it could swoop in and pick up the pieces. To this day, I find McConnell’s declaration appalling. Consider all the problems we have faced in this country over the last four years — from debt to adapting to globalization to unemployment to the challenges of climate change to terrorism — and then roll over that statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

To this end, the United States is no longer a country defined by strict conservative rule. An alliance of women, immigrants, minorities, youth, employed and unemployed mirrors the American face. The Republicans rolled the dice and went for the working-class and white elderly.

If any Republican can answer how their platform would work, then I challenge any one of them to tell me how the 2012 Republican platform would benefit Mississippi: where abortion revocation “will do little to help support that child after life begins; reduce the highest birth rate among teenagers, and the second-highest infant mortality rate; reduce the lowest life expectancy in the United States and the highest rate of adults 25 years or older who have not completed high school or equivalency degree; or decrease the lowest state in personal earnings and wages (my original post, Mississippi: Faith Without Works).”

Borrowing from Chris Matthews recent apology and the movie ‘Thirteen Days,’ as a Buddhist, may the current election bring the possibilities for good politics, where men (and women) of goodwill will sit together and work together. And that’s – that’s all there is between us and the devil.

When you can do that, you will find the connection to your base.

The Donald’s Meltdown

So ‘The Donald’ had a public meltdown last while watching the election returns.  Following the “disgusting injustice”, Mr. Trump called for a “revolution” of the American political system, including a rally in Washington DC.

The reality television star made the attacks in nine messages to almost 1.9 million followers, moments after President Obama was declared the election winner. Some of the tweets include:

Well, back to the drawing board!

We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”

Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.

This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before.”

My only thought is that you personally pick up Mr. Ryan and share a room at the nearest hospital.  Better yet, take a vacation … see the world … like Kenya.

Even before the die is cast, before voters have cast their ballots, House Speaker John Boehner, told POLITICO that GOP lawmakers would reject any new taxes on households in the highest income tax bracket.

“We’re not raising taxes on small-business people,” Boehner said. “Our majority is going to get re-elected … We’ll have as much of a mandate as he will — if that happens — to not raise taxes.” With that salvo, maybe we’ll hear from the Republican leader of the senate, Mitch McConnell, who will say the Republicans’ number one goal is to make President Barack Obama a two-term president.

In Forbes magazine, Gary Shapiro wrote, “…we often overlook the fact that teams, not individuals, are responsible for much of our success. Teams of people working toward a common objective make up our country. As much as America stands for and admires rugged individualism, team sports serve as the metaphor for our national character. Individual heroes and leaders often emerge – but teams that succeed are those that work well together, have a good game plan and even allow individual heroes to shine.”

Thus, Boehner’s ‘drawing a line in the sand’ is reminiscent of the “The Longest Day” where men on both sides of the war ask “I sometimes wonder which side God is on” as the day unfolded.  To Republicans, Democrats and Tea-Party supports alike. God is not on your side. He’s on everyone’s side.

Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost.”

— John Quincy Adams —

Paul Ryan squeezed in time on a four-stop, five-state day for a conference call with evangelical voters Sunday evening, issuing a warning about a second Obama term saying the president is putting the country on a “dangerous path” that compromises “Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values.”

It’s a dangerous path,” Ryan said on his opening remarks on the call. “It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great an exceptional nation in the first place.

This is insanity. Ryan might have just as well painted Obama as the anti-Christ and painted 666 on his forehead.

And that’s precisely my point. WTF is wrong with our leaders?  Ann Coulter calls Obama a retard. Sununu claims former General Powell supported Obama because he’s black. Sarah Palin stated the President performed a ‘shuck and jive shtick’ over the Libyan Embassy. Missouri Senate candidate claims there is such a thing as legitimate rape and Senate Republican candidate Richard Mourdock’s remarks about pregnancies resulting from rape being God’s will are just sick.    There’s simply nothing loving about rape.

So in light of the above, I find ironic Paul Ryan can claim Obama compromises the Judeo-Christian values. Seriously? Mr. Ryan, you are whacked. Go to a hospital right now. You don’t deserve to be Vice-President.

Ironically, CNN Politics indicated Ryan, a Roman Catholic, asked a priest he met at a restaurant Monday to bless a rosary he carries with him.

If this is the vision that God has in store, then He can keep it. Instead, I prefer what the Dali Lama tweeted:

A mind wishing to benefit other people and other sentient beings is the very basis of peace and happiness.”

%d bloggers like this: