Archive for March, 2015


Heart isAccording to the Bible, Christ claimed, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Sad to say, much of my life has been living in second, with spurts of third and fourth interwoven during the decade.

I became aware my own life story this afternoon.  Theoretically, spirituality includes trying to better my relationship with God and better myself as a person each day. But I was confronted by my own inadequacy overhearing a conversation at the next table.

What are your life’s priorities?” asked one women to another.

“Family, school, work, future, other,” her friend responded.

“And you husband?”

“Oh, he’s lumped in there between families and other.”

Like this woman’s husband, I’ve lived a life of second, third and fourth. My early years was blended education from family and friends that I was not first. Through systematic thought, someone else’s opinion of me became my life and I became swallowed by a life of inadequacy.  Few, if any, placed me first.

Twenty years ago, I asked my employer if I could attend management training. I was never given the chance, as management never saw me as a trainable leader. My second wife’s priorities emphasized her mother first, family second, her image third and I was fourth.

This realization was an extremely tough to reconcile over coffee at a Panera Bread Company. Truth be told, I would never be number one. I could have climbed the Himalaya’s, cured cancer, created time travel or won the lottery, but her priorities would always remain mother, family, her image and me. I constantly fought, but I did not understand the psychological game was predestined. I would be not better than fourth.

I realize now that even my greatest love, Karen was doomed. Her priorities were, living for Christ, her image and me.  I was never the priority. She loved me deeply, as I did her. We were soul mates. But at the end of the day, she would not relinquish her image and standing in the Catholic Church nor her image of Christ for a divorced man. Karen would always be married to Christ and never to me. At that level, I was only an accessory.

As a Buddhist, we should share championing one another. Marriage is unlike any other role we fill in life. Marriage is unlike any other job we do. Marriage is elevated, by love, speaking through love and should elevate one another to the highest place of life.

Loving like Christ means wanting to please God in every part of life: at the job, in all routine work, in daily relationship, and in the big and small decisions of life. We must live in love during our earthly, human life, and become empowered by Love’s Spirit.

What we need to consider is how to obey the living Christ and Living Buddha by serving and making one another your primary ministry. Thus you, and those you love, are the priority.

So I have to ask …. Thy Treasure Is?

101103_mike_pence_wave_ap_328Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) defended the religious freedom bill he signed last week, saying the growing outrage over the legislation stems from “… a tremendous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding.”

George Stephanopoulos, host of “This Week,” ended an interview with the governor by asking for a yes-or-no answer on whether it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

You’re following the mantra of the last week online, and you’re trying to make this issue about something else,” Pence said. “What I am for is protecting … the religious liberty of Hoosiers.” Pence described the media coverage and opposition to the law as “shameless rhetoric,” saying it strengthens the foundation of First Amendment rights rather than discriminates.

Believe it or not, a federal version of the religious freedom law was enacted in 1993. However, dozens of states have passed their own versions, including one passed unanimously in Illinois when President Barack Obama was a state senator.

Supporters claim that for the florist who refuses to sell flowers for a gay wedding or a baker who won’t make a lesbian couple’s wedding cake, this law fends off lawsuits each business might face. Whereas civil liberties groups assert the law could be used by businesses to deny service to people based upon sexual orientation and religious belief.

The problem lay in the suggestion that both sides have valid arguments. They don’t. One side fights for equality and civil rights while the other creates pseudo bigotry to prevent the other from becoming reality. There really aren’t two acceptable stances on these issues for millions recognize what mainstream conservatism doesn’t – that God loves all.

The argument over what Pence signed is destined to become visceral, vitriolic, and ugly. Both sides dig in, because each thinks the other is flatly wrong — both in heart and fact. As the debate rages on, this will spiral to a place so far away from the law itself.

As a Buddhist, in general, Buddhism does not make a distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Instead, the expectation is not to harm, exploit or manipulate others, which would directly violate the third precept, sexual misconduct. For instance, Zen Buddhists often refer to hedonism, ascetic masochism and prostitution as practices violating the “Middle Way.”

On another note, I didn’t know we needed to strengthen America’s First Amendment rights, for they seem pretty strong. But strange how some believe one amendment requires strengthening, while others, per se, such as gun control, gains nary a review.

imageI spent this past week in Orlando, Florida. Ironically, the American Counseling Association was holding its annual convention here. During my stay, I befriended several counseling professors from a few universities. Although summarized, the following stories were garnered after a few drinks, with names and schools being omitted.

Story One – A Paid Vacation
“I came here for the conference,” the dean said. “I’ve been here three days and have yet to attend one conference seminar. I’ve been at Disney World the whole time.”

“Why haven’t you attended anything?” I queried.

“Well,” she exclaimed. “Others use the conference as vacation for years. So I got tired of it and decided to do it myself. The heck with them.”

“So the university paid for everything: hotel, airfare, car rental, dinning, gasoline and tolls?”

“Yes.”

“Man! Gotta love the cost of education,” I noted.

Story Two – The Grant
“My school has given me the best grant ever,” he pronounced.

“And that would be?” I inquired.

“I received a grant to watch gay pornography and report on possible counseling techniques to counter pornography.”

“Seuiously?”

“Yes. Seriously.” After a brief pause, “Guess what?”

“What,” shaking my head.

“In truth, I am a gay man.”

“So you’re a gay man. And you reccveived a grant from the university to watch gay porn?”

“Yes,” he laughed.

Story Three – The Email Spy
“I came to give a speech on data privacy.”

“Important topic,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “And if you run across anyone needing a software that can read emails, let me know. I built one.”

“You built one?”

“Yes.”

“How does it work?” I asked.

“Well, I own a private security company on the side. I funneled university computer technology student interns to work at my company. Students built the software that I sold back to the university and then to the government. The software tracks and records all emails sent by students or university staff.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah,” he said. “If you send an email through the university system … to Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail … whatever … If I turn the software on, I can copy, track it and read it. And you’d never be the wiser”

“And if the students and faculty ever find out, I’ll bet they’ll be pretty pissed.”

“Oh yeah,” he said.

Somewhere along the line I thought education was to better students, professors were leaders. But apparently, in some cases, it’s all about having students pay for stupid shit.

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