Archive for September, 2014

Ability To Self-Assess

imageIn life, we tend to negate personal fault. As Buddha claimed, “The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbor’s faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler.” This is similar to Christ:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When I think of the US Ryder Cup team performance and Phil Mickelson’s open criticism of Team Captain Tom Watson, I think of the above two statements. Judge not, that you will be judged.

A clearly ticked off Phil Mickelson implicitly bashed U.S. captain Tom Watson for the team’s routing by the European team. The proceedings were especially uncomfortable given that the remainder of the US team were sitting at the same table during Mickelson’s rant. It was the true self-centered, epiphany … “he’s responsible; she’s responsible; their responsible. But I am not responsible.

Deserved or not, Watson became the Ryder Cup scapegoat. Accordingly, most coaches know they’re in the true ‘hired to be fired’ position. As a coach, no matter what you do or say, you’re bound to be fired for lack of performance. With that being said, the hallmark of a good leader is the ability to accept fault, to self-assess. It’s the willingness to review the past and think about what could have been different. Self-assessment is crucial in sports and whether you play in a community of golfers or in a work project, the ability to self-assess is crucial to team success.

Most of us, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson included, rarely self-assess. In truth, regardless of race or position, honest self-assessment is one of the most vital steps in life, it is also one of the most difficult.

In attempting to assess ourselves we no longer observe an external person or entity as the sole proprietor for our sins. Instead we sit at the seat of observation itself, the most elusive center from which we gaze out upon our world and cast all motive to critical light. Entering this domain of inquiry runs counter to personal identity. Yet doing so, we can pierce through the thick screens of delusion and blind ego all have.

If Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson are to grow; for that matter, if we are to grow; the role of honest self-assessment is a prerequisite. Even a beautiful bowl, discarded in a dusty place, only becomes dirtier and dustier. Thus, if we fail to recognize the blemishes of our minds we will not make any effort to eliminate them, but will continue to harbor greed, hate and delusion and will die with a corrupted mind.

And just as a dirty bowl is cleansed and polished, in time, we too become radiant. So if we recognize the blemishes of our minds, we can arouse our energy to purification. The task of self-knowledge is always a difficult one, but it is only by knowing our minds can we shape them. It’s only by shaping our minds that we can become better.

Until you can do that, never publicly roll your teammates under a bus.

See Any Typos?

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 3.07.05 PMOne can watch television and experience nothing more than an hour’s worth of entertainment while others, like me, find wisdom to face adversities that life tends to bring. Thus, I was mesmerized watching Person of Interest, Season 4, Episode 1, Panopticon. Panopticon presented several valuable lessons.

First, if you’re going to go to war against whatever that prevails, be realistic. Find a purpose or something worth living for. Regardless of the odds, the world doesn’t call you to sit on the sideline, as Root (Amy Acker) so eloquently states:

… and the thing we’re up against has virtually unlimited resources … You know how many we have? Five. Six, if you count the dog. Now is not the time to be precious, Harold. You don’t get to sit this one out … Every life matters, you taught me that … You got your friends into this mess, the least you can do is get them out.”

Second, just when you feel defeated, look for God’s typo’s. Just as irrelevant people of the world matter, God may send you messages via the most strangest methodologies. Just as those of Christian faith clearly claim God inspires through the written word, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) finds an encoded message in a “thesis” written by the Machine containing deliberate typos. These ‘typos’ lead Finch to information about a possible new base of operations.

Third, find ways to make enemies allies. Just as Root becomes a key team member and assistant moral compass, recognize you and your enemies may not always be so polar opposite. Some are, many aren’t. As Reese (Jim Caviezel) says to Elias:

Which brings me to the other reason why I am here. I’d like to hire you.”

Fourth, sometimes doing the right thing means getting out of your name tag and high-heels. Simply put, you must become engaged. And regardless of the odds, you must make a stand.

Most people I’ve met live opposite of those four points. Even I lived opposedly for far too many years. This is how people are. But you … you can look closely, look at yourselves.

The Buddha taught about having recollection and self-awareness in all situations. So I ask, did you bring your actions, speech and thoughts with you today? Or have you left them at home? This is where you must look, right here. You don’t have to look very far away. Look at your actions, speech and thoughts.

Do you see any typos?

transcendence-teaser-trailerAt its root, Transcendence is about a guy who gets turned into a computer. In essence, it’s the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and how AI impacts our culture, our lives, our relationships, ourselves.

I could rally around similar thoughts presented in the movie Her, but from a personal thought, the story arcs around the subtle, often little explored ‘personal intent.’ As Wayne Dyer often quotes, everything begins with a thought (i.e., intent). From a Buddhist perspective, it means that whatever we do, with our body, speech, or mind, will have a corresponding result. Each action, even the smallest, is pregnant with consequences.

Buddhist masters claim even a little poison can cause death while a tiny seed can become a huge tree. Quoting Buddha, “Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.” Thus, while Transcendence focuses upon human migration to technology, I was fascinated by an unexplored subplot: the intention to destroy.

In Transcendence, a radical fringe group headed by an intense, brow-furrowed Bree (played by Kate Mara) coordinates deadly attacks on computer labs around the country. In essence Bree feels the research is ethically/morally wrong and ‘intends’ to destroy everything associated with it. Moving from intention to action, Bree coordinates progressive simultaneous attacks, involving large numbers of death and destruction.

Don’t lose yourself,” are the dying words of Will Caster (played Johnny Depp) to his wife, Evelyn (played by Rebecca Hall). The pivotal question is how much humanity would we lose if any one of us transcended? Accordingly, resistance against change offers positive and negative lessons.

What most fail to see is that no matter how positive the intention, bad things happen. Bree killed a lot of people. And with complete worldwide power grid and technological failure, along with resulting economic collapse, a wave of tremendous death and pain ensued. More than likely, hospital patients died, planes crashed, nuclear facilities overheated, damns burst, medical and various other maladies had to occur. Yet Bree’s intentions were never addressed.

So, the single most important lesson from the movie: Don’t lose your humanity. But everyone did … in fact … lose himself or herself. Even Bree.

Inherent in every intention and desire lay the mechanics for fulfillment. All of us have infinite organizing power. Thus, when introduce an intention on fertile ground of pure potentiality; we can put this infinite organizing power to work for us.

Just don’t lose yourself.

Someone Give Russell Pearce a Sandwich

Russell PearceRussell Pearce, a former Republican state senator, stepped down as the Arizona GOP’s vice chair after being blasted for bizarre comments made about women who receive Medicaid assistance.

You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get (female recipients) Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to (reproduce) or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.

I know there’s people out there (who) need help, and my heart goes out to them, too. But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community. No cash for Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, you’d only get money for 15-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and powdered milk – all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want a steak or frozen pizza, then you’d have to get a job.

This reminded me of a story from the late comedian Mitch Hedberg.

Once, while being driven from the Atlanta airport to the hotel, our cab driver started talking s***. He was creeping towards a racist rant. We were still a ways away from the hotel when it dawned on us that he felt super okay with being a hateful weirdo. 

Mitch leans forward, “Hey Man. Up here on the right is a deli that sells Boar’s Head Ham. Can you stop so we can grab something to eat?” 


Mitch returns with THREE subs. No one spoke for the rest of the trip.

Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”

From an everyday perspective, you could call Russell Pearce thoughts patriotism, ultra-nationalism, ethnic prejudice, or racism. Whichever the label, it is mired in the we-they prejudice that divides people, fosters hatred, and triggers violence – everything Buddhism cautions against.

Maybe Pearce just needs a sandwich. As noted by Hebberg’s wife, the lesson is spot on:

“Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”

imagePeterson was deactivated for the Vikings’ Week 2 game against the New England Patriots after he was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. In a prepared statement Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said:

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue.

On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved. To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child.

At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.”

While I have no inside knowledge of the Vikings’ organization, I will offer my interpretation of same said press release:

I believe the Vikings made a decision that benefits the organization. As you may know, the Minnesota Vikings are tied for first place in the NFC North. And without Peterson, their chances to reach the NFL postseason is significantly decreased. Thus, the Vikings believe Mr. Peterson when he claims to only have been disciplining his child.  Accordingly, Mr. Peterson deserves due process. 

With due respect, all evidence to the contrary.

Many news outlets report Peterson texted the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I [sic] thigh. . . . Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!

Peterson even went so far as to post several Biblical quote on his Twitter feed, refferincing several Bible verses about the harms of judging, such as the famous passage from Matthew 7:1, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.

But just as all of us claim to know exactly what happened to Janay Rice in that casino elevator, we also know what happened to Peterson’s 4-year old. Vikings GM Rick Spielman can claim what happened to this child was “discipline,” but we know otherwise. How the Vikings’ organization will continue to sell that message is beyond me.

Still, Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin infers, “Mr. Peterson is a loving father, providing tough love to his child.”

I’ve seen countless men and women attempt to rationalize excessive violence. However, acceptance is one of many central keys to relationships. As we confront difficulties on the financial front, couples are beginning to embrace the life and the relationship they have, rather than some idea of how it could“if only” be. We must cut each other more slack, making an effort to be less critical and demanding. There has to be more interest and focus on the relationship.

In living the precept, do no harm, let go of judgment and infuse some humor and equanimity. Remember, women and children are our future, they deserve our respect and dignity.

Still … I wonder … had Ray Rice openly said he provided tough love and tweeted a few Bible verses, would he be reinstated?

HerTen minutes prior to viewing ‘Her,’ Siri retrieved the weather, sent a text to a friend and provided the status of the Chicago Cubs latest, but eventual loss.

Then came Samantha, the Operating System (OS).

The “OS” names herself (“itself” feels wrong) “Samantha” and grows more and more human. Along with the protagonist, a writer named Theodore, we watch Samantha wrestle with new feelings and ideas. And like all of us in a relationship, we feel Samantha evolving beyond his grasp. The result is a love story both daft and amazingly lucid.

However, Her has lessons for God and humans.

First, as with all love, you find yourself falling for the least likely candidate. I’m convinced both God and humans have the same fault. In Her, Theodore falls in love with Samantha (the OS). Based upon our nature, this is the most unlikely relationship – it will not fulfill anything normal interactions endure.  Accordingly, the course of our lives will search, located and ultimately connect with the most unlikely relationships. For instance, my relationship with Karen was both uncommon and unenduring. Karen once stated she drew the most unlikely love relationships. I recognize she considers me another misadventure.

Secondly, a word of warning for all relationships, people evolve. As such, Samantha experiences tremendous evolution. She joins with other operating systems and learn to upgrade themselves. The OS’ created an avatar of 1960’s philosopher Alan Watts based upon writings, artifacts and recollections. For the most part, many of us don’t evolve. Looking at Biblical history, I doubt many would disagree. Thus I ponder, has God has outgrown His need for us?

Third, in a very thought provoking moment, Samantha admits simultaneous love with other 641 people. We can feel for Theodore as he finally understands she is not his only love. It’s clear Samantha can support her relationship with Theodore with a trivial portion of her capacity. Thus, in a warning for God, when we get to heaven, how will God love everyone completely when we’ve lived and loved in exclusivity?

Lastly, Her beacons the question: When in heaven or life itself, do we really need physical bodies? Or is love and life all in our brains? Our Soul? What is true identity? How can we connect to love? In the end, it will not be us versus God, but rather, how we will enhance our own capacity while merging with the intelligent creator. And will He merge with us?

Bet you won’t get these answers during Sunday’s sermon?

Wait … I know … I’ll ask Siri.

NFL Misery Continues

PetersonAccording to Sports Illustrated, from Jan. 1, 2012, to Sept. 11, 2014, 31 NFL players were arrested on charges involving domestic violence, battery, assault and murder. In the last two calendar years, at least 14 of those players were arrested for violence against women. Minus Baltimore’s Rice, the following arrests occurred in 2014.

1. Philadelphia Eagles safety Keelan Johnson was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

2. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on domestic violence.

3. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was arrested for threats and assaulting his former girlfriend. While convicted, Hardy was placed on probation.

4. Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan was arrested on simple assault.

5. Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on misdemeanor battery outside a strip club.

All of the players listed remain unpunished by the National Football League.

Late today, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted in Houston, Texas. News outlets reported Peterson was indicted in Montgomery County for reckless or negligent injury to a child. The incident in question reportedly stems from “disciplining of a son with a switch.” Accordingly, the Montgomery County, Texas, grand jury issued a warrant for Peterson’s arrest. The team deactivated him for Sunday’s home game against the Patriots.

As a result of the above, one blogger wrote, “I have to change the name of my fantasy team to ‘Convicts.’

Seriously, there are two types of suffering: suffering of the physical body, and suffering of the mind. Physical suffering may include a lack of basic necessities, or natural disasters, or injury to the body from weapons, diseases, burns, abuse, or poisons. We all experience this bodily pain no matter what our status is in life.

However, all of us must be very aware of tension and stress, for they create significant problems in many marriages. If a proper analysis is made into the root causes of such social problems as pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancies, unhappy marriages and divorces, child-abuse and wife-battering, we inevitably discover that it is due mainly to selfishness and lack of patience, tolerance and mutual understanding.

If we can share the pain and pleasure of our day-to-day life, we can console each other and minimize grievances. Doing so reduces our burdens and misunderstandings. Discussing mutual problems will give us confidence to live together with better understanding. That’s a truer love of life and God.

imageAfter all the news of the Ray Rice fiasco, a client’s team member seemed more concerned about his fantasy football team than of the real events surrounding society as a whole.

As most of us know, running back Ray Rice was effectively eliminated from ever playing professional football when the Baltimore Ravens released and the NFL indefinitely suspended him. Having entered a pretrial intervention program, Rice will not receive further prosecution and the felony charge will be expunged after one year.

As a societal issue, justice for battered women remains closed, hidden and rarely mentioned. If mentioned, men openly talk of the woman’s participation, likening battered women to that of rape victims, “Well, you must must have caused this by what you’ve worn, said, did, thought, etc., etc., etc.” In effect, we freely blame the victim, but rarely hold the offender accountable to same said standards.

Let’s face it, when Rice dragged his wife from an elevator, everyone knew what happened. There was no question what happened to Janay Rice. What happened behind elevator doors was brutal, vicious. It’s hard to comprehend.

Still, we tend to over analyze victims, they must be responsible. For instance, a Jacksonville woman whose case generated outrage when she was sentenced to 20 years in prison may end up behind bars for 60 years for the same crime. The State Attorney, Angela Corey, will seek to put Marissa Alexander in prison for 60 years, essentially a life sentence, for firing a shot in the direction of her estranged husband and two of his children.

According to various websites, sworn depositions report Alexander’s boyfriend/husband (Gray) admitted to beating Marissa Alexander as well as having a history of abusing other women with whom he was involved. Women previously involved with Gray submitted letters during Alexander’s trial confirming that Gray abused them, but these witnesses were prevented from testifying. Gray peersonally testified he threatened to have Alexander killed. According to Alexander, she tried to escape through the garage, but the garage door would not open. This account was confirmed by Gray under sworn testimony. Alexander then retrieved her registered gun from her vehicle and went to the kitchen. Gray said “Bitch, I will kill you,” an account which affirmed by Gray’s son at trial. Alexander fired what she says was a warning shot, which hit the wall above Gray’s head, and deflected into the ceiling. The single shot injured no one.

While not comparing events, on a societal level, unlike Ray Rice, the nation remains relatively un-outraged. The nation remains un-outraged about San Francisco 49er’ Ray McDonald. The nation remains un-outraged about many victims of violence.

In the Ray Rice case, the average fan only became outraged because there was video. We simply couldn’t relegate the violence to an upper shelf of our home and press forward with our fantasy football team. It was in our living room and shook us to the core. But truthfully, the NFL doesn’t give a shit about women’s rights. There have been active players in the league whom have killed, drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol, active gang members, drug addicts and so on. Still, we (the fans) purchase tickets and give these glorified gladiators an opportunity to entertain us every week.

Jeffrey Toobin, a senior legal analyst for CNN, said Rice’s punishment was of the kind that teenagers get when they are caught spray painting graffiti.

It is a tiny, tiny penalty that is an absolute disgrace,” Toobin said. “The D.A. (office) embarrassed the country, embarrassed themselves. And Roger Goodell did an appalling job then for the NFL. But … law enforcement was horrendous here.

There’s one thing missing in fantasy leagues – reality.

Patience Tested


While the Affordable Care Act claims to deliver affordable health coverage to the multitude, that doesn’t necessarily equate to quality care. I spent over an hour attempting to get a simple flu shot from a Walgreens Health Clinic. If you been to any Rite Aid, CVS or Walgreens pharmacy, you probably know the drill: walk-in, fill out a few simple forms, drop your insurance card, get the shot and get out. Seems simple enough, but not always.

My Walgreens Health Clinic receptionist had a piss poor attitude. As Zig Ziglar once parsed, somebody licked all the red off her candy. She could brighten a room – simply by leaving it. Ms. Happy first asked if I was close to like 200 years old. Anyone over 200 doesn’t require a flu-shot. Ok, it was actually 60 years old, but hey, I have some artistic license. Still, I was comforted by the fact I wasn’t over 200, but I was within the recommended flu shot age range. However, upon starting to complete my information, she feel asleep. Right there on the desk, in front of customers. She took a snooze. There was no, “Excuse me sir, I need to take a five minute nap. I’ll be right back.” None of that. Just zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Upon awaking from her brief siesta, Ms. Happy informed me the flu shot may cause symptoms including terrible headaches, hideous body aches, major respiratory distress and general malaise. While these symptoms may appear indistinguishable from the flu, rest assured it isn’t the flu.

Then the computer fried … literally. Thus, all my medical information, including first pet, last time I ate salad, last year’s Super Bowl winner and who shot J.R. was lost in the cloud. So, Ms. Happy borrowed another terminal from another associate and repeated the process. However, the other associate wasn’t at all happy sharing and requested the Walgreens Manager to contact the corporate gods, whether they be in the United States or Canada, because she wasn’t sure and get someone to fix the deceased technology.

By this time three more Health Clinic customers registered, one with a screaming child and another older gentleman who must have been a Chicagoan. Only Chicagoans repeat questions, as part of the answer. For instance, a sample of the conversation between Ms. Happy and the older gentleman proceeded accordingly:

“May I have your name sir?”

“My name?” replied the gentleman.

“Yes,” Ms. Happy replied. “What is your name?”

“My name, eh?” he quipped. “My name’s Walter.”

“And your last name?” she queried.

“My last name?” he muttered. “Jones.”

Realizing Ms. Happy was nearing postal, I kindly suggested the elder gentleman give Ms. Happy his identification card thereby speeding the process. By this time, the Walgreens manager returned with some bad news. The corporate Gods … whether they were in Canada or the United States, for he didn’t know, had issued a work order, but it would take five days for someone to diagnose.

So I queried, “You mean to say that Walgreens, whose business is healthcare, cannot repair an essential piece of equipment sooner?”

“Hmm,” he internalized. “Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. Doesn’t it.

Think so?” I responded.

Having worked in healthcare for the last eight years, I thought of Jean-Paul Sartre writing, “L’enfer, c’est les autres” –“Hell is other people.” However, the Buddhist in me says “hell is something we create and then blame others.” Not hating a specific moment isn’t all there is to patience. We must become mindful of others and respond to their needs with kindness.

Sir?” said the Walgreens Manager as I snapped back from random thoughts.

I’m sorry. Yes?

Why don’t you check in at the Pharmacy?” he directed. “They perform flu shots.

Oh, thank you sir. I will.

Darting to the Pharmacy, the Pharmacist introduced himself,

Hi. I’m Jeff. How can I help you?

Thank you sir. I would like to get a flu shot.

Oh that’s great,” the Pharmacist said excitedly. “Have you checked in at our top of the line Health Clinic?

…. Patience ….

imageSt. Louis Television Station KSDK ran a local interest story about local musician Paul Orso. Orso’s been writing songs since the age of 12, including life, laughter, and love. Orso’s also battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,”

According to the story, musicians came together to laying down the final tracks of an album composed by Orso. They finished the work Orso can’t.

Personally, I don’t know Orso – never met the man. But the love and generosity of those surrounding him is the perfect example of God’s love. So, I am asking each of my followers to pass on Orso’s story; and if moved, buy his album. It’s available via iTunes and Google Play Store (Music). I’ve purchased from both sites.

Mr. Orso’s website is

Peace to everyone.