Tag Archive: Peace


I was several hours away from a small inter-department speech when it happened.  I wasn’t particularly stressed. The previous night, I had plenty of sleep and my morning was fine. As I started with agenda and opening remarks, I noticed the left side of my face became numb. I could speak, and though the audience never saw, I knew everything wasn’t quite right.

After the presentation, my spelling wasn’t right either. Words like ‘dream‘ were spelled ‘draem.’ ‘Acute‘ became ‘accute‘ and ‘slide deck‘ became ‘sldie feck.

Within an hour, everything returned to normal, as though nothing happened. I knew it wasn’t. I experienced a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke.

The doctor knocked politely, opened the door, and sat in the standard hospital issued chair. From his look, we both knew his message would suck.

“So,” he started solemnly, “we ran a few tests. We concluded you encountered a mini-stroke.”

“Yeah, kind of figured” I nodded.

“What concerns us is that about 1 in 3 who experience a transient ischemic attack will eventually have a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the initial attack. We’ve looked at your tests and reviewed your history and previous heart-related issues. We believe you’re more likely to be in that range.”

“Any idea how long I might have?”

“Good question. With proper medicine, a major change in diet, maybe minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or a couple of years.”

“Well,” I laughed. “That narrows it down.”

“We feel it’s going to happen. When? Well, we aren’t sure. Hopefully, we can get you to the years or beyond, but there’s no guarantee.”

I was discharged with medication and a batch of follow-up tests.

Stopped at the Apple store on my way home to pick up a replacement iPhone.

“Would you like Apple care+ or Apple Care+ with Theft and Loss?”

“Huh?” after snapping back from another place caught in random thoughts.

“Would you like Apple care+ or Apple Care+ with Theft and Loss? You know, AppleCare+ extends your warranty coverage from one year to two, and extends phone and chat support from 90 days to the full two years as well.”

Standing dazed for a moment, “No thanks,” I replied with a smile. “The phone will likely last longer than me.”

There are no warranties in life. And while the duration of my life is uncertain, I concluded during my meditation last night to come quietly into this “transition.”  Outside of wanting to take one last Alaskan cruise, I simply wish to feel the presence of loved ones.

I experienced a powerful out of body experience (OBE) during meditation last night. While I will detail that experience in a later post, I realize there is no possible way to escape death. Except for Enoch, No one ever has, not even Jesus, Buddha, etc. And, of the current world population of 5 billion-plus, almost none will be alive in 100 years. So, like others, I will welcome death upon arrival.

Yet, at this moment, my message is simple – it is possible to feel both the beauty of a loved one’s passing, knowing he or she is free from suffering while simultaneously experiencing the relative suffering of my loss. To do anything other than that is to by-pass my humanity in some essential way and listen to the wisdom inherent in God’s love.

I close with this, if my warranty doesn’t expire, I shall write again. But I shall double my effort to enjoy each minute of every single day. I believe we all need to do just that.

Peace …

I’ve watched both the Smollett and Stone cases in the past several weeks. Both Smollett and Stone wish to position themselves as victims. Yet, neither are textbook victims. In Smollett’s case, police announced that the “Empire” actor is officially a suspect for filing a false police report in regards to his alleged attack in Chicago. And for Stone, he was kicking himself and apologized profusely for his shortcomings. “I am kicking myself over my stupidity,” Stone said, abandoning his infamous “never apologize” mantra and tough guy demeanor. Legal analyst Jack Quinn said, “… if stupidity were a crime, Roger would be in jail for the rest of his life. This was just monumentally dumb on his part.

In truth, both Stone and Smollett were incredibly stupid.

At the outset, I must confess that I have by no means claim perfection in my own life. As mentioned in previous posts, I am riddled with faults, and I further admit that I’ve critically hurt many friends. But I came from a perspective that’s been there and did it. But unlike Stone or Smollett, my work is done away from the public spotlight where I no longer have present ant false veneer.

I’ve witnessed glimpses of myself in other events. For the most part, I ignored them. However, one such incident leaps that leaps to forefront involves an auto dealer’s son. It was late summer 1996, and I was invited to a dinner party by the owner of a car dealership. The owner’s dealership included Acura, Lexus, and BMW.

After mingling with guests I’ve never met, I walked to the back where several of the serving staff were taking a break. Chit-chatting back and forth, one server drew a breath from a cigarette and nodded toward a young man walking with a younger woman.

“Ah,” he said sarcastically, ” There goes Capt’n Cessna.”

“Who?” I responded

“Capt’n Cessna,” he pointed. “We’ve nicknamed Jason J., the dealer’s son, Capt’n Cessna.”

“Why?”

“Well,” said a server sitting on a swing. “He tried to make a BMW fly.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I heard about that. The brakes failed on his BMW and car got totaled.”

“Ah ha ha ha ha ha,” laughed everyone. “You don’t know s***.”

“Really?”

“Hey Jimmie,” the woman to the man next to me. “Tell him. You tell good.”

“See sir. Capt’n there,” he pointed, “wanted an Acura NSX for his birthday. But his father got him a BMW. So, one day, he gets this great idea to release the parking brake in hopes the car would roll and get damage so he could buy another car.”

“Didn’t quite work out that way, huh?”

“Nope. No sir,” said one server.

“He tried to blame it on bad brakes,” claimed Jimmie. “But the car creased in-between the street’s V-shaped storm drain, slid backward, completely straight, and rolled downhill. Police estimate the vehicle started going about 9 miles per hour, gained speed, and maximized at 40. It hit two garbage bins, clipped Ms. McGurdy’s summer azalea’s, pulverized a copy of the Morning Gazette into the pavement before losing its driver’s side mirror against the U.S. Post Office Mailbox before becoming forever immortalized into Morningside folklore.

Once the vehicle traveled past the road’s end, the BMW’s $20,000 value quickly plummeted. Any lingering thought that the street curb would reverse destiny was thwarted, as ‘bla-blup, bla-blup’ emanated from underneath, followed by a quick ‘phooom,’ and a brief second of silence. And there, against the backdrop of an early morning sun, the BMW momentarily floated, and in dawn’s silhouette, dove outward, toward the shore below.”

Everyone cracked up.

“Car buffs along Morningside Drive claim that was the greatest event ever to occur, even when comparing it to Danny Butterfield’s errant 4th of July bottle rocket landing in ol’ Quester’s Wagon Ride. Even today, during hot summer afternoon’s, ol’ folk sit, sip cool tea, and reminisce of the day when Capt’n there confirmed, without question, that BMWs don’t fly.”

In Buddhism, being truthful goes beyond merely not telling lies. It means speaking truthfully and honestly, yes. But it also means using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to help only ourselves — this is where Roger Stone and Jussie Smollett failed. Speech rooted in the poison of hate, greed, and ignorance is false speech. If your speech is designed to get something you want, or to hurt someone you don’t like, or to make you seem more important to others, it is false speech even if what you say is factual.

The tricky thing we must do is forgiveness. In the case of Stone and Smollet, when all is adjudicated, and sentences are over, we must forgive. However, many holy words one reads, or however many are spoken, what good will they do if we cannot act on upon them? Therefore, my friends, if we fail to forgive, then holding on to our anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you get burned.

Firgiveness is never easy. For Stone and Smollet, forgiveness will not be a single event. Rather, it will be a series of decisions repeated many times over.

covingtonOn January 18, 2019, Covington Catholic High School faced heavy backlash after a group of predominantly white students was filmed harassing and insulting Native Americans participating in an Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington, D.C. The students were visiting to participate in the simultaneous anti-abortion March for Life, which attracts many Catholic groups. Many of the students wore “Make America Great Again” hats.

In one of several videos of the incident, a student wearing a Covington Catholic sweatshirt is seen smirking and blocking the path of Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran who was playing a ceremonial drum. The students reportedly chanted “build that wall“, while others stood in a circle nearby and chanted “CovCath is the best.”

There’s several ironies. First, all of this comes days before Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Second, students attending the anti-abortion March for Life seem to subversively claim, “We march for life, but we impugn the life of anyone notwhite.”

Go figure.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:

I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.

Love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. Unfortunately, love requires effort.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Second ChoiceMy Dear Friend:

The Bible inspires the following thought: where your treasure is, so shall your heart be. Sad to say, much of my life has been lived in ‘second’ place, with sputters of third and fourth interwoven.  I was personally confronted by my weakness this afternoon at a Manhattan restaurant.

“What are your priorities?” asked one woman to another.

“Family, school, work, the future, other,” replied the second.

“And your husband?”

“Oh. He’s lumped in-between ‘Family’ and ‘Other.'”

Just like this woman’s husband, I’ve lived a life of second. For several decades, someone else’s opinion of who I should be and what I should become became my life’s plan. I willingly swallowed a life of inequality. Of course, there were a few moments of bliss where I found myself. Other priority swallowed whatever had planted.

Be earnest” you claim. “Be devoted. Risk yourself.” And late at night, as I wrote, “Be bold when faced with a blank sheet. Befriend it. Mold it.”

Ah, my love, you’ve set me free. And now, I can see whether near or far, our priorities intertwine. I forward with hope. You’ve pierced my soul. Awoken the embers of an ancient flame. And like an Olympian, I shall carry this torch unto the finish line of thy heart. You are my divine. You are my peace. You’ve melted the ice. The sky is anew.

You are my inexplicable love.

Each of the years spent in the military, I was asked, “Are you ready to die for your country?” Without delay, I would respond “Yes Sir (or Ma’am).”  After each proclamation, I would be provided the tools and training to stay as safe as possible. And maybe I lived in relative naivety, for I never really expected to die or that I would really have to sacrifice my life for another. Yet, there were a few missions that upon return, I changed my underwear and gulped a quick drink.

I look back to these times some thirty-years ago. A half decade of service seemed dramatically different than today. Today, “war zones” are closer and reside in uncommon area rarely seen. Hospitals, work spaces, local ballparks, post offices and schools. By rejecting any gun control efforts, state legislatures are in essence asking the enemies of the past, i.e., out educators, to not only train and educate, but to pay the ultimate sacrifice, as required.

America, we are hypocrites, for we’ve considered teachers as our enemies? You read that right. And I provide one example.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker all but declared war on Wisconsin teachers. In the wake of legislative changes, thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public-sector workers camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Walker’s efforts to reduce their take-home pay — by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits — and restrict their collective bargaining rights. Walker in essence said, you are the reason we’re (Wisconsin) is broke.

There’s an interesting, strange line at the end of the new film The Big Short, which chronicles the Wall Street doings that caused the economy to crash. In a voiceover near the end of the film, Ryan Gosling tells us that while bigwigs got off without consequences for what they did leading up to the Great Recession, people blame “immigrants, the poor and for the first time, teachers.”

Less than a week after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the Florida State House officially said “fuck you” (2/20/2018) by rejecting a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. However, lawmakers opened the session with a prayer for the 17 killed. Seventeen people received only a prayer. That’s the legislative equivalent of ‘sucks to be you.’

And the final twist … the US Army is awarding medals for heroism to three students killed in last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque, all students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were also cadets in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and will receive the Medal of Heroism for their actions in last Wednesday’s shooting. Of course, all the honorees are dead.

Real heroism exists neither in Washington nor in the Florida State House. In today’s world, we ask former enemies to sacrifice their lives for students. In turn, we provide these heroes with nothing but a few days of training. We exhibit a profound lack of leadership to their needs, pay them like shit, and blame them for our lot in life. And yet … and yet … when bullets fly, they willing place themselves between students and assassin.

If you want to honor the ‘agape love‘ Christ and Buddha professed, go to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victim funerals and honor them, their families and their lives.

Unfortunately, Americans prefer guns over teachers. Thus, our real enemy is ignorance and indifference.

Equanimity In The End

DeathAs you may know, one can often find me meditating in the wee hours of the morning. It is here, where I often find peace and harmony with the world and with God. So, in this sense, I offer the following story occurred February 11, 2014 between 2:45 AM and 3:30 AM.

————-

W. Get up and meditate. I want to talk to you.

Uughhh,” looking at the clock. “2:26 AM Ms. K. I am tired today.”

…. 2:39 AM ….

W.! Get up and meditate. I have a surprise for you.

Ughh…. Ok, Ms. K..” Stumbling about. “Can I use meditation music?

No. No meditation music.

Glancing at upon my clock … 2:42 AM.
Within several moments of starting my meditation, I seemed engulfed by a powerful presence. There, standing in front of me was Ms. K., my friend who passed late last year. Standing in spirit form, she stood beautifully. While there was no physical body, her face, eyes, lips
 and hair was identifiable, but appeared gleaming by a warm soft light.

Everything about her was translucent. It was the strangest thing ever. I could see her, but see through her. She lived, but was different, beautiful, radiant and swarmed by golden light. 
While her smile was deeply moving, what captured me was this deep sense
 of love and peace. And aside from Christmas Eve 1978, this was perhaps the most powerfully
 expressive amount of love I have ever experienced. Ms. K’s touch peacefully
 penetrated my body. We embraced and our
exchange was filled with an overwhelming sense of acceptance.

Ms. K guided me through her new home. It was a world not unlike our own. At first glance, the grass was green, but each blade
 echoed a similar golden hue, a drop of dew and glistened from warmth surrounding everything. Each tree leaf was illuminated with a sense of deep purity. It was a most peaceful and accepting world where a light humming form of music I cannot adequately describe. There were no musicians, no choir, no rap, no reggae
 or jazz. It was harmonic.

W., this is the hum you hear at night. It is the music of the universe. It’s god’s
love. You, as do many others, hear the harmony of life.”

Before I could respond, we suddenly stood overlooking a city. The city seemed
 small and quaint, but it was hard to say. Every building was surrounded
 by golden aura, emanating from every wall, every roof and each window. Suddenly, without notice, a tall man stood before me. Adorned in white,
 I was embraced and a rush of ever present love streamed
through my body.

You are forgiven.”


I am forgiven?” I queried.”

You are forgiven. Whatever you have done, you are forgiven. I forgive you.

Just as quickly, Ms. K. and I were alone.

Was that God?

Yes.” K. replied as she smiled. “I told you I had a surprise for you.

…. 3:30 AM …. Meditation ended.

Everything written is an abbreviated account of my forty-five minutes in heaven (at least I can only relate it as being in heaven).  Being a meditation practitioner for years, I can honestly state I did not fall asleep, did not dream this vision, and did not enhance any part of the story.  I tried as a best as possible to accurately reflect the events.

In real life Ms. K. and I were not true friends. Outside of an occasional business meeting, we did not spend any non-work related time together. However, every since learning of her passing, I have had several “telepathic” conversations. Most of my persistent queries have surrounded what is “Heaven” like and what is God like. The other key part of my conversation centered upon many of my personal failings (adequately described herein this blog).

I can only presume after much pestering she found a way to answer my query.

I want everyone to know that this conversation has not converted me to conservative, Biblical quoting scholar.  In truth, much of my life will remain as the Buddha once described:

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”

In other words, our life goes forward and each of us must life it.  Some may claim this vision is a proclamation of my impending death.  Truthfully, that could be true.  But then again, I wasn’t supposed to live this long anyway.  Yes, I have Multiple Sclerosis and my circulation system kind of really sucks at this moment.  But I hope to tarry on for another 100 or so years. Ha! Ha!

I offer only two points.

  • First, I am not unique. I am not superhuman, overly blessed or specifically chosen.  And I still have no understanding why Ms. K. has chosen to communicate to me. But I am honored by her presence.
  • Secondly, I simply offer this story to say that any one of us can be forgiven. If we live in love, breathe in love and give love to others, any one of us can have the same wonderful experience.

If my story offends anyone, I am truly sorry. But I really hope my story brings each of you some peace or hope; that my story offers each of you something positive. If I can be forgiven, any of you can be as well. The real gift Ms. K. provided me was a process. It’s a process that allows any of us to live our days and allow us a degree of equanimity towards the end, looking at that black, implacable wall of death, to allow us a degree of peace, a degree of non-fear.

And I want in.

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