Tag Archive: living buddha


As GOP leaders continue marching the American Health Care Act through the legislative process, we are left with bickering pros and cons of affordability and coverage. As one who’s earned a livelihood from the healthcare industry, I view legislative gladiators from the cheap seats and ponder, “If you can’t afford health care, should the state let you die?

The current House plan relies on government tax credits, regulation of the insurance industry, and continued government funding to keep the low-income population insured. Yet in-between weeds, down in the fine print no one ever reads, one can find insurance reforms are positioned so carriers can offer a wider array of policies that pick up less of the tab for getting care. Additionally, Insurance companies can charge the oldest enrollees as much as they want, roll back the Medicaid expansion thereby eliminating approximately 11 million of the nation’s poorest from health care and eliminating healthcare services of poorer via planned parenthood.

In February 2017, Cardinal Burke noted, “Catholic health care, by its constant and careful attention to the perennial moral teaching of the Church, safeguards and promotes the respect for all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death ...”

Sounds wonderful, but there are little safeguards that promote the respect for all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Our faith-based nation spends a hell of a lot time upending/defending Roe vs. Wade, but the notion we protect all human life from conception to natural death is bullshit. The back hallways of healthcare facilities are littered with the strewn, discarded and neglected. These hallways are filled with the “let them die” arrogance. We simply do not care about the respect of human life.

Both Bernie Sanders and the Pope have stated similar positions, “…access to health care regardless of income” is a right. Technically speaking, even one without health care can get health care coverage via a hospital emergency room. And in truth, both the Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s American Health Care Act provides opportunities for health care access. Now whether one can afford that access is an entirely different matter.

Health care is not mentioned in our Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Yet our Founding Fathers rightfully focused on life, liberty and justice. Conservatives continue to believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense.

Several years ago, a 17-year-old senior at T.C. Williams High School wrote:

“… it must be noted that the key word in said act is “affordable.” The American people struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet, worrying about groceries, bills, and car payments. For better or for worse, that is capitalism, and as a country the United States has stayed true to its ideals. Nevertheless, the competition of the game of life should never have to be a game of life and death.”

Health care coverage is extremely complex. By nature, medical clinicians, Buddhists, Christians and many others of faith are concerned in their own way in the alleviation, control and ultimately the removal of human suffering. The American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck began his bestselling book The Road Less Travelled with the statement “Life is difficult.” He added, “This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.”

Borrowing from Peck, the current health care debate is difficult. The disparity between health care and American values is crudely displayed as political views, politicians, managers, and administrators impact who receives what level of proportioned health care. While hospitals are forced to meet sometimes arbitrary measurements of performance, financial incentives are dolled-out on the backside. Lost in all this is what matters. For instance, what may matter more to a patient is the intangible and unquantifiable aspects of care experience. On what measurable performance scale can it be recorded that a dying patient is helped through denial, anger, and resentment to peace and serenity?

Of course, we can mimic Rep. Roger Marshall’s (R-KS) holy view to wash our hands. Marshall used Jesus to justify his opposition to Obamacare by explaining that poor people will reject health care.

“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves. Just, like, homeless people … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, [some people] just don’t want health care. The Medicaid population, which is [on] a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging, I’m just saying socially that’s where they are.”

Can we afford to be spiritually ignorant as some politicians? Should society claim that if one can’t afford health care, they die? No. At this point, both societal value and the American Health Care Act are morally unaffordable.

The Voter Fraud Clown Show

Trump holds a rally with supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S.

Watching the current White House Administration claim three to five million illegal voters participated in and cast ballots for Hillary Clinton is like watching a never-ending comedy marathon. Even White House press secretary Sean Spicer was forced to stand at the podium and reiterate the allegation.

So in case you missed the show, Trump lost the 2016 popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. He did win the Electoral College. The Electoral College put Trump as America’s head honcho. This is like saying, “I won at poker table with an inside flush, but my opponent collected 30 cards of a deck of 52. That fucking pisses me off. I am entitled to all the cards.”

Instead of moving on, Trump gets pissed to the point that his post-election tweet noted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Instead of “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!,” Trump’s administration is water-downed by such a bullshit story, performed either by incompetence or stupidity – you pick.

The Truth About Voter Fraud, a report written by experts at The Brennan Center for Justice, found voter fraud rates were between 0.00004% and 0.0009%. In other words, of all the voters who cast ballots, one is more likely to get struck by lightning than meet an actual illegal voter.

Unfortunately the White House is home to our chief law enforcement officer and head of the legislative staff. But to give the current administration the benefit of doubt, I reiterate Senator Graham’s comments:

I wasn’t there, but if the President of the United States is claiming that 3.5 million people voted illegally, that shakes confidence in our democracy — he needs to disclose why he believes that,” Graham told CNN.

We do know of one case of voter fraud – she was a Trump supporter. If White House Representatives produces evidence that millions voted illegally, then it holds true some of those illegal votes were probably cast in favor of Republicans. Thus, a recount could prove Trump is not the elected President. By reviewing data more analytically, we can query how does administration gather data, how does the administration know who is a non-citizen and how do they know all voted for Clinton?

Maybe they received the data from Russia or WikiLeaks.

From a Buddhist standpoint, maybe we (this website as well) shouldn’t spend all this time debunking Trump’s lies. Repeating lies and myths—even to debunk them—simply ends up reinforcing them, as countless studies have shown. If you want to debunk a lie, you should focus on stating the truth, not repeating the lie.

For God’s sake, live in truth.

For the rest of us, sometimes it’s better to watch the clown show.

img_0011Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer tried to undercut the national view of misleading facts into alternative facts. Ok, let’s get real, “Alternative Facts” are nothing more than lies.

After listening to Conway’a message, I kept thinking of how vast the difference between her statement and Precept 4.

Let’s start with some history. The Trump administration basically started his Presidential term with trying to convince Americans that Sean Spicer’s arguments about inaugural crowd facts. Of course the rift between the media and Trump’s press secretary was quite the show.

In case you missed it, Sean Spicer basically went on national television and new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters this past Saturday from the podium of the press briefing room with a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

As CNN noted , aerial photos indicated former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience. To these, Spicer said, without any evidence, that some photos were “intentionally framed” to downplay Trump’s crowd.

Kellyanne Conway coined a new term Sunday morning when she stated that White House Press secretary Sean Spicer was not lying about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. Instead, Conway claimed, Spicer simply told us “Alternative Facts.”

Of course no one understands Trump made almost 200 statements during the campaign that were deemed “Pants on fire” lies or simply false.

I will side-step the politics here, but seriously query, should I meet God, can I use “Alternative Facts” to condone my actions? Can my son use “Alternative Facts” should during a court trial? If the President uses false precepts and lies to the public over crowd numbers, what will he do in times of serious trouble?

As a Buddhist, any thoughts, speech or actions that are rooted in greed, hatred and delusion and lead us away from unity and harmony. Any thoughts, speech or actions that are rooted in giving, love and wisdom and thus help clear the way to peace. To know what is right and wrong in god-centered religions, all that is needed is to do as you are told.

In a human-centered religion like Buddhism, to know what is right or wrong, you have to develop a deep self-awareness and self-understanding. And ethics based on understanding are always stronger than those that are a response to a command. So to know what is right and wrong, one needs to look at three things – the intention, the effect the act will have upon oneself and the effect it will have upon others. If the intention is good (rooted in giving, love and wisdom), if it helps myself (helps me to be more giving, more loving and wiser) and help others (helps them to be more giving, more loving and wiser), then my deeds and actions are wholesome, good and moral.

Of course, there are many variations of this. Sometimes one may act with the best of intentions but it may not benefit either myself or others. Sometimes intentions are far from good, but that action helps others nonetheless. Sometimes by acting out of good intentions helps me but perhaps cause some distress to others. In such cases, the actions are mixed – a mixture of good and not-so-good. When intentions are bad and the action helps neither myself nor others, such an action is bad. And when my intention is good and my action benefits both myself and others, then the deed is wholly good.

So looking at the Trump organization, when the fake is presented as truth, then to whom does this benefit? And when lying in life, to whom do you benefit?

We all deserve honesty. Unfortunately, most of us get only shit.

img_0009Author J. Gresham Machen once wrote “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” In fact, grace is the most important concept in Christianity and the world. It is most clearly expressed by God’s promises, as revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ. Grace is the love shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God. It is this type of grace we are called, by God, to provide others, just as God provides to us.

This form of grace – this form of love – is the first thought crossing my mind after hearing of Chelsea Manning’s commutation. As you may recall, Ms. Manning is in the seventh year of a thirty-five year prison sentence for leaking classified military data to Wikileaks. In this essay I will neither review nor comment on either the nature of the crime nor the prison sentence. Rather, I simply choose to focus upon the President’s act of grace.

In truth, I have no idea why President Obama commuted Ms. Manning. Suffice it to say, there are probably many who are equally deserving. And I respect and honor all the effort and love for those who fight on their behalf.

There are many who claim the disclosure of documents was brutal, that many were impacted by the breach. And therefore, Manning is unworthy of such grace. Others will claim American taxpayers should not pay for Manning’s gender identity and counseling. I sympathize with such thoughts. Then again, as a taxpayer, I did not want to pay for the Iraq war and I certainly did not want to pay for the military effort in Afghanistan as well. As such, every taxpayer in America sucked it up and paid the price. I also did not enjoy reading, seeing and hearing of American soldiers committing horrendous acts of brutality either. Yet many remain at large, free from prosecution.

Strictly speaking, the blessings of everyday grace does not appear to descend from a Supreme Being or deity. Rather, grace comes from the normal interaction of people meeting people, by enlightened travelers who go forth, interact, forgive and love daily.

At the core of our humanity, all of us want to believe and embrace grace. At the same time, at our most human level, none of us will never emit the powers of Christ. Yet Christ and left humanity with two of Christ’s most powerful weapons – love and grace. These weapons transcend every day smugness, anger and hatred and provides real grounds for human hope. Transcendent grace reaches beyond our limitations of human understanding and provides relief to those who suffer.

I believe this is the same form of grace Manning received.

We don’t have to assess evidence for worthiness. We don’t have to condemn the fallen. We don’t have to impose our own limited bias to a woman most have predetermined forever unworthy.

What’s honorable is that somewhere, somehow the President of The United States reached down to a very wounded soul and provided grace. It should be our hope that all of us receive this level of love.

img_0006At a rally in Wisconsin, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

Mr. Bill O’Reilly returned to the War on Christmas this year, but with a triumphant tone.

That culture war issue ignited and we won,” he recently said. “Donald Trump is on the case.”

Question please. “What war?

There is no evidence on any type of organized war on Christmas, it’s simply personal ignorance used as a “device” to ensure bias and innuendo remain artfully sculpted by equally bias. Christmas war allies noted the 2016 naughty list included Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret. Starbucks came under fire for seasonal cup designs that emphasized social harmony over Christmas greetings.

Bah humbug Trump would metaphorically say, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Thank God for Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly claimed “The Donald” is on the case. So much so that he declared the war on Christmas officially over. ”We won,” O’Reilly claimed. After hearing that, I hurriedly rushed to the streets. Each corner brought a sense of excitement. “Celebrations Everyone.” “Celebrations,” I yelled. “The War on Christmas is over.”

Yet, not one corner yielded singing in the streets. There were no pictures of home bound sailors kissing women in New York’s Times Square. There were no pictures of Christmas War soldiers raising the U.S. flag, like that of Imo Jima. Did the Christmas war even have a flag? Sorry, I digress.

I FaceTime’d a friend in Finland. Surely, Finland will be celebrating? Surely? Right? “What the f…?” He said. “What? What war? Call me when you’re sober” Then I reached out to another friend in Norway. Christmas War? Nope. Nada. No celebrations. Nothing. Finally, I called the big man at the North Pole. Yes! As in the North Pole, Alaska (actually south of Fairbanks, AL). No war there either.

I perused the BBC, Yahoo, MSN, MSNBC and Associated Press (AP). No war. No war memorials to the lost and fallen, no one to lay an annual Christmas reef on the Tomb of The Unknown Christmas War Soldier Memorial and no evidence of any Christmas War veterans waiting in line at the Veterans Administration hoping to get aid for Christmas War PTSD.

Once Again, all of this begs the question, “What war?

Seriously, the only war won was where sensible men and women allowed ignorance an upper hand. As a Buddhist, I’ll take the harmony Starbucks offers. We need more of that.

kapEveryone seems to have an opinion on Colin Kaepernick’s pregame National Anthem protest. In the last week or so, other players inside and outside the NFL, including Megan Rapinoe and Denver Bronco’s Brandon Marshall and high school football players have been reported taking a knee during the Anthem. News Media has also rumored either some or all of Seattle Seahawks may be is planning some sort of protest at Sunday’s, September 11th game.

Yet when a player doesn’t receive their adieu to take a knee, they get pissed. Megan Rapinoe opined:

To be honest I didn’t hear (the anthem) and I wasn’t exactly sure why it wasn’t played, but (expletive) unbelievable,” Rapinoe said. “Saddened by it. I think that it’s pretty clear what the message is that I’m trying to bring to light when I knelt in Chicago and what I’ve continued trying to talk about the last few days and what I intend to talk about and clearly with (Spirit owner Bill Lynch’s) actions, I think that that’s a necessary conversation.”

Kaepernick’s protest (for lack of a better word) started because he couldn’t show pride in a flag of a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To him, this is bigger than football and he couldn’t look the other way. The problem with all these protesters is that the message of hope gets lost and does little to foster proactive conversation about how people are treated. Instead, it’s about Kaepernick. It’s about Rapinoe. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Throughout the last several weeks, I’ve traveled between Chicago and Indianapolis. In neither city have I heard one person discuss either Black Lives Matter or police brutality. Kaepernick’s discussion has not produced enlightenment upon police brutality or even racism. No one in either city said, “Hey, let’s talk about racism and what we can do to help narrow the gap” or “Let’s talk about the plight of the disadvantaged in our neighborhood and how we help.” The only statement I overheard was from a wickedly honest seven-year old boy in O’Hare International Airport who wondered if Kaepernick slept with a chia pet.

If the mission was to create an open dialogue of race as sports fans guzzled beer and eating nachos while huddled around fifty-inch televisions as teams pounded the shit out each other, then Kaepernick needs to think of something else. If Rapinoe believes that supporting Kaepernick will create proactive race discussion as sports fans watch women play soccer, she’s woefully misinformed. There’s no honor in public policy or triumphal banishment of systematic hate at the 50 yard-line. Sunday afternoon is about the pigskin. It’s about legalized brutality.

Participating in a brutal sport while condemning societal brutality seems over played. Professional sports players like Kaepernick and Rapinoe make an eloquent pay-check. Each can protest and theoretically ride off into the sunset. They will move on quite comfortably.

The crux of the argument is that we (as a society) must do more than protest. There’s more to making a statement than simply taking a knee. Whether we’re against cancer, police brutality, child abuse, animal rights or the right to education. Regardless of the movement, protest is only effective if it’s a start, not an end. Each of us have to be active in the cause that calls our heart.

And that’s the difference. Where was Kaepernick’s protest three and a half years ago, when Trayvon Martin died? How about Michael Brown in 2014? For that matter, Eric Gardner was choked to death only a few miles from where the Giants practice. Philando Castile was killed just outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, mere minutes from where the Minnesota Vikings play. I would love to see their expressed outrage for 12-year-old Tamir Rice or 7-year-old Aryana Jones and the scores of others who have died at the hands of police since 2012.

Would this conversation have been different during the years the self-absorbed Kaepernick was declared one of the best quarterbacks in history? Hard to say. But by dissing the American Flag, Kaepernich and Rapinoe have done little for the movement they claim to support. It becomes about them, not the cause.

A more powerful message would been Kaepernick saying, “I am retiring from football, donating my millions and will begin working side-by-side with those helping to change the dialogue of race.” Now that would be worthy of real conversation.

Then again, real change doesn’t take a knee.

imageWayne Dyer passed away a year ago today. And after reading many of his books and reflecting upon his spiritual insight, I looked for some remembrance. From anyone.

I used to think of Dyer as the go-to spirituality guru. I listened to his audio books while at the gym. For a time, he was everywhere. By my count, he starred in 10 National Public Television specials—featuring his books Manifest Your Destiny, Wisdom of the Ages, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, and the New York Times bestsellers 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, The Power of Intention, Inspiration, Change Your Thoughts—Change Your Life, Excuses Begone!, Wishes Fulfilled, and I Can See Clearly Now—which raised over $250 million for public television.

I thought of Dyer as I thought of my life’s value. Now, nearing the end, I’m amazed that I only now started to think of personal legacy. As if I had any. I spent a lot time helping – mostly myself. So why now do I think of my own personal legacy so late in life? Since I am no Wayne Dyer, I wonder if anyone will remember me? Did I do anything of positive value or do I simply focus on only what went wrong in my life?

In truth, it was because I presumed I always had more time. Guess what? I don’t.

Like others who read of or participated in Dyer’s books and seminars, I received a lot of insight. Yet, a simple Google search reveals little remembrance for a man so many claimed to have been touched by. No lasting memorial. No profound statement that embers still in the depth of the soul. Nada!

And for most of us, this is what happens. We take when given, but remember only infrequently, if at all. Only the exceptional are remembered. The exceptional are few, for you and I will only be remembered by close friends or family.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that all of us are not that exceptional. We all can’t set the world on fire. We can only set ourselves on fire. According, paraphrasing Shaw, the only torch we must set aflame is the crucifix of our own love – a depth of love that must be willing to surrender unto life’s nails. Have you done that?

Sorry to say I learned love’s crucifix far too late in life. I’ve been rewarded much, yet recompensed poorly. Lasting fruit of life’s seeds came to fruition based upon the depth of love given.

Individual legacy rests not in the hands of newsprint or mass media. Real legacy is the depth of love we choose to give one another. Unfortunately, I chose only my own. Now, I wear life’s burden.

I Sit silenced. By the grace of God, I now understand my legacy. I will be remembered for burden. As Marley said, it is a chain I forged in life, link by link and yard by yard. And not one moment will I be free.

 

imageLife offers a first-time and last-time for almost everything. Today I accomplished two: telling a friend my body was giving up. Telling someone I was dying was a first. And it’s the last first chance I will have to accomplish that. She was the first.

After running the conversation sequence through my mind, playing out all scenarios imagined, it is hard to predict how people will actually react. Generally, the people who love you will feel shocked and overwhelmed. Some people may try to be cheerful while pretending nothing is wrong. So while I hoped for a more realistic moment and opportunity to express my feelings, that did not happen.

I started the conversation by saying what a good friend she was. Having been through all the shit I gave these past ten years, I acknowledged her love and friendship. But my body was at a point where it had to let go of any lengthy time expectations.

Being a psychotherapist, she picked up on the hidden meaning and went straight into Kubler-Ross’ first stage of death, denial. “Nope not happening,” she said. “Miracles happen every day.

She’s right, miracles happen every day. Unfortunately, it’s going to be someone else’s miracle, not mine. I’ve lived nearly 36 years with a major diagnosis – longer than anyone expected – but miracle or not, my body is tired. It’s wearing out.

Having worked in hospitals these past 12 years, I’ve see death intimately. Most people die in hospitals and nursing homes, where they receive the extensive nursing and medical care. Their loved ones have less opportunity to be with them and often miss sharing their last moments. We’ve isolated the living from the dying; consequently, death has taken on added mystery and fear.

For me, I am at peace. As such, I believe it’s important to cultivate some form of positive, happy virtuous state of mind and abandon the non-virtuous, harmful, suffering states of mind. My death is definite, but its time remains a shadow. According, I will aspire to be ready by being mindful of the preciousness of life and the uncertainness of length. I will spend time with those who’ve loved me.

Regardless of my time, I don’t want to only love only those who’ve loved me.

I am stunned after writing that last sentence. Allow me to digress for a moment. Years ago, in some over-the-top self-improvement class, each participant was asked to write their mission statement on index card. Here’s what I wrote:

Paint each person met with beautiful brushstrokes of love.

While I did some of that, much of my life has been lived as a self-centered asshole. And inspite of being an asshole, I believe I know, with certainty, my after-life destination – albeit I have no clue what happens once there or how long I’ll be there (stage or phase). It’s neither perfectly bad nor perfectly beautiful. Its perfect for me.

I cannot possibly achieve the mission statement from years ago. But I do want everyone that I’ve angered, in any form, to let go and have the chance to live a happy and beautiful life. It’s miserable to wallow in life’s misery. Everyone has to find peace and move onward. I want everyone to become to special to another. Hopefully, each person can pay back my lack of love with love to one another.

To all I meet over the next few months, I will try and peacefully assist with the process of letting go. To help them move onward. Maybe, I can help a few that I’ve pissed off to live and move on As well.

Through God’s grace, there is no stage one for me. Rather I’ve learned death is not a be-all or end-all. I want people to embrace the fact that I have a deep sense of love for them and I want each of them to embrace the world beyond. The idea of just living as a physical presence is nonsense. That fell by the wayside when I realized that physically embodying one’s form is not the way to live.

I simply wish for each of you that correcting any of the wrongs brought unto to others is more important than being physically planted on earth.

entrepreneur-livingLet’s be honest. The last ten days sucked. The unexpected deaths of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana were absurdly connected to the deaths of five Dallas police officers. Combine those tragedies with deaths in Nice, France, everyone should acknowledge the internal wake up call that we know, but rarely acknowledge, our demise can occur at a moment’s notice.

It’s strange how life’s last moments seem unremarkable. The New York Times reported Philando Castile of Minnesota finished getting his hair styled, called his sister Allysza, and offered to deliver dinner to the suburban house she shares with their mother. Over a meal of Taco Bell takeout, the two alternated between laughter and serious discussions, including about the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by the police in Louisiana. He never returned home.

The five murdered Dallas officers were spouses and parents. They volunteered in schools and church and swore to serve and protect. One officer gave a homeless man a meal the night prior to his death. Officer Patrick Zamarripa served several tours of duty in Iraq only to be felled by a fellow vet.

As French revelers celebrated, a 19-ton refrigeration truck was driven nearly 70 miles per hour over a 1.1 mile stretch of road. The driver directly aimed for and struck celebrants before being stopped by French officers. The aftermath left trails of family ruin and death. One moment, a great celebration. The next moment, despair.

This post is not about the value of a life, whether it be Castile or Sterling, Dallas police officers or French victims. Each have been duly honored for giving more than I ever will. This post is not about the merits of concealed carry, the right to bear arms, Black Lives Matter or the fight against terrorism. This is about “understanding,” as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross noted perfectly:

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

What I thought about were those brief moments when loved ones said goodbye and were never heard from again.

I am curious how life interacts, becomes separated from the interconnectedness and reconnects by some seemingly unrelated event. Any of us can be connected to family and friends one moment only to be connected to some tragic event later. We forget the number of lives we have touched today is like counting waves in the ocean, because each wave follows another until it vanishes from us. Through the lives of one another, everyone has already lived so many lives, so many forms, so and participated in so many stories.

In a noncritical way, as I look upon life’s ocean waves, I cannot but wonder what could have been – if Castile never purchased a handgun or achieved a concealed carry permit; if Castile’s officer had taken a more conciliatory approach; if a veteran sought help rather than a weapon; if the damn truck in Nice, France didn’t start or if someone offered its driver an open hand. Would all that were lost be alive?

I doubt if each victim imagined their life would end so abruptly. You and I share similar backgrounds, faiths, experiences, thoughts and love. Rarely does one think that before day’s end, one would move onward. Yet that very fact is all too common.

Readers, like those whom love and share our journey are the characters of our story. Most never want the story to end. Like you, we’ve invested significant effort into the knowing, molding and loving, the highs, lows and middle. We find it extremely difficult to near the final chapter.

Rarely do we have the ability to control our goodbye, there’s never enough time. We human ants are too busy with workouts, meetings, plane flights, doctor appointments, family and social functions. We replace brief moments of sharing with football, baseball, working late, burning the midnight oil and fixated upon this or that. Meanwhile, the readers of our lives wonder of the story within, the writer’s composition and homily. Oh how the writer becomes a stranger, even to himself.

Unlike many, I haven’t chosen a one and true path. I’ve traveled far. But have I lived richly? My soul’s youth yearned to changed the world. I didn’t. I only changed myself. I know many would have loved my spontaneity, my energy, my ability to make people laugh. Yet I hid and cloistered my soul, even from those whom I loved. I forgot the last time I made love, lightly caressed or kissed.

The lesson this Buddha learned is that life and living life are completely different. Living life means recognizing our interconnections. This week’s memoriams demonstrate true living, people who embraced life’s highs, lows and middles. Life was about embracing their readers, about being human in the most vulnerable way, reaching out toward interconnectedness and rippling the ocean’s waves.

So, for all who passed, please … please relish, live and connect with the readers of your book (life).

PrayIn 1991, Barbara Poma’s older brother John died battling HIV. Twelve years later, Poma and her friend Ron Legler founded Pulse Orlando in memoriam to her brother and as a safe space supporting the LGBT community.

According to police, alleged shooter Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse. An officer working at the club initially responded, “engaging in a gun battle” before the suspect went back into the club, Authorities say that at least 50 people have been killed and at least 53 are injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Playwright Arthur Miller wrote “violence in our streets is the violence in our hearts.” So much so that violence by weapon has weaved so much into daily life we hardly notice. To add support, BradyCampaign.org notes on average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for some form of gun assault. Additionally, every day, on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm and 46 people are wounded or killed via a gun. In contrast, if 86 people were dying each day from the mosquito bred Zika Virus, there’d be holy hell on the streets of America.

Over the coming days, thousands will pay their respects, reefs laid, memorials held, tears shed and promises to remember will be made. Homage and prayers were offered by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many celebrities. Donald Trump? Well, Trump congratulated himself. But at the end of the day, even this shooting will have little positive impact for the Washington electorate to implement anything more than a few moments of silence.

The important part of Sunday remembrances came not from celebrities but rather from those who survived the shooting. Brothers, sisters and children were not overly idealized or enlarged in death beyond what they were in life. Each victim was remembered simply as a good and decent person, who saw wrong, tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it.

Pulse Orlando was about was Love.

And what set Pulse Orlando and victims apart from the hate was their depth of love – not only for each other but their community as well. It’s the same love Christ and Buddha offered. And that form of agape love can never be forced, even by a whacked out, mentally deranged idiot. Why? Because power never wins. A true God does not want subservience, but love. Pulse Orlando and all those LGBT rights activists chose the sometimes slow, hard way of agape love. It’s a conquest from within.

George McDonald captured both Christ and Buddha’s approach, “Instead of the crushing power of force; instead of destroying what we believe to be infidels, these victims encouraged making one another better people. (paraphrased)” Better citizens. They chose to love one another.

Victims in this shooting are voices speaking from heaven. Some will try to dismiss them but each victim is dazzling proof of love’s transfiguration. Each one is beautiful and may their voices roar to the power of love.

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