I’m Thankful 2011

First and foremost, a Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your day be filled with joy, laughter and full bellies as you spend quality time with family and friends.

I am thankful for many things this year, but am concentrating on the basics. I’m thankful for family, friends and my job.

My direct family, and extended family are close knit. we may not see one another everyday, or even close to once a month, but when and if they are called upon, they are there like true family members should be. Their unconditional love has got me through many of cloudy days. I hope that I can repay them someday with the kindness they have always shown me.

My friends, while a small group of folks, are really important to me. We are a support network that is undeniable. They know I’m there for them, as I know I am there for them.

I am extremely thankful for my job. Without it, life would be nearly impossible to live. But, it’s not just about the money. I work, as you know, for one of the largest cable providers in the US. They are a phenomenal company to work for. Not only do they care about their customers, but they truly and honestly care about their employees. The opportunities are huge, and if you are willing to work they are willing to move you up. Nowadays companies like this are hard to find. So I am thankful to work for them.

So, simply I am thankful for the things that maybe I take for granted but are truly the most dear to my heart. 

Book Review: The Story Of Buddha, A Graphic Biography

“The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”
Written and Illustrated by Hisashi Ota
Published by Ichimannendo Publishing, Inc

Finally, someone has put together a manga (graphic novel) based on the history of Buddha. It’s been done for The Dalai LamaTibetan Master Je Tsongkhapa and author Stephan Asma wrote and illustrated a book called “Buddha, A Beginners Guide” which was comic like, but it was done in more of a humorous way than “The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”, which is more true to the roots of this style of novel.

“The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”, is much more of a traditional Japanese styled manga, meticulous, clean and quite moving. The illustrations are striking and express emotion without even needing to read the words, but it is important obviously that you do read them. The story line, which most of all know by now, puts a little more emphasis on his life in the palace and the struggles he goes through in understanding, or trying to understand, what life is truly about. His struggles were immense, but through rigorous training of the mind and body, the Buddha did achieve true happiness from suffering.

The novel is written well enough that intermediate readers to adult readers will not only enjoy, but devour in a timely fashion. I truly enjoyed reading “The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography” and would recommend it highly not only to those who are new to Buddhist thought and practice, but to those that already have a working knowledge of Buddhism. Hats off to Hisashi Ota for accepting the challenge to tackle such a project, and praise to him for being successful in doing so.

Book Review: Peculiar Stories

“Peculiar Stories”
Written by Mora Fields
Published by O Street Publishing

Peculiar Stories is a great collection of short tales, directed at children of an early reader level. I’m glad Mora, the author, sent me a copy.

While not officially a book on Buddhism, or even Buddhist folk tales, the stories told are very similar in flavor and morality to those of the Jataka Tales.

We follow a young, 9 year old girl, via her own words and thoughts. She speaks of visiting, and being visited, by a a family member she simply calls Uncle E.

Uncle E is a very Zen like character with quick little quips of knowledge, and edgy koan like questions for the main character. With such questions like, “Well, I was wondering, do you think the train is the main thing, and the space between the cars is in the background, or are we looking mostly at the space, and the train cars are just passing through it?”, the reader is challenged to think on their toes.

My 7 year old has been curious about the book, and I am happy to pass it on to him. The stories are thought provoking, yet done so in a way that readers of this level can understand and contemplate on.

“Peculiar Stories” is not directly written for one spiritual group, nor does it seem to be overtly spiritual at all, and that’s not a bad thing. It encompasses witty stories that a child can not only appreciate, but smile at while reading.

A non-“Buddhist” rant

The one thing I am learning about social media is, 85% of the posts on the various platforms are nothing but negativity. Maybe the number I said isn’t right, but sometimes it actually feels like 100%.

What really burns my ass is the fact people complain so much about such trivial things. They complain about their lives, their jobs (or lack of jobs), their husbands, their wives, YET they refuse to do anything about it. Life sucks, change it. Have no job, get one. Husband or wife not working out, get a friggin divorce. For cripes sakes people!

My feed most of the time is this person or that complaining about a commercial they just saw and how it pigeonholes them as a group. For instance, what set me off was someone who posted a comment about a new commercial from Old Nay. In the commercials they say something like “Don’t jiggle it when you wiggle it”. They instantly took offense to it. They assume it is some sort of attack on them because maybe they don’t live the active lifestyle. I can guarantee that Old Navy has no idea who you are, so the commercial was not made about you.

Maybe, just maybe the folks at Old Navy are trying to tell us something. Something like we’ve become a nation of lazy sob’s. For instance, in 1985 in the state of Massachusetts (my home state) the obesity rate was under 10%. In 2010 that rate is nearly 24%.  In 1985, the state of Texas was under 10% yet in 2010 it was over 30%. In 1985 Oregon was under 10%, yet they were nearly 30% in 2010. There is a trend I’m sure you are seeing here, they are facts.

Old Navy probably did not spell all of this out for viewers of the commercial. They didn’t need to. What they were doing was marketing a product, one that encourages people to get off of the couch, unplug from the internet, drop the Wii remote, etc and get moving.

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Food Review: Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce & BBQ Sauce

Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce and BBQ Sauce
Brought to you by The Sacred Works Project

A while back, after a teaching by Lama Migmar, I drove him back to Boston from the Cape. We hadn’t eaten yet, and when we got to his brother’s house he invited me in for dinner. We had a traditional Tibetan Soup with a light salad. He asked me if I wanted to try some Tibetan sauce (it was more of a paste) and warned me it was hot. I LOVE spicy stuff so I was down. Not only was it great, and a little burny (yeah it’s not a word, I just made it up) but I had to have more.

For months afterward I was trying to find anything that was similar and until I opened the mailbox one day and saw some Mama’s Fire Tibetan Hot Sauce in there, nothing stacked up.

MFTHS (it’s easier to abbreviate this one, lots of typing with this name) is not dead on to what I had with Lama Migmar, but it is comparable in it’s own way. It is very unique in the fact ginger seems to be one of the main ingredients, and while it does not add heat, it most definitely adds some bite. I’ve put it on just about any sort of dish I use hot sauce with. My favorite it is to use it on turkey tacos, the ground turkey absorbs a lot of the flavor and still leaves the heat. When I can, I use this stuff in every dish that calls for hot sauce.

Along with the Tibetan Hot Sauce came a bottle of BBQ Sauce. The first opportunity I had, I marinated some chicken in this stuff, grilled it up and wow, it was fantastic. Some BBQ sauces out there have to much honey, to much smoke and they just lack a good flavor. Mama’s Fire BBQ has a clean, tangy flavor without the smoky aftertaste of a lot of the store bought sauces.

My wife got a skirt steak a few weeks back and let it sit in a crock pot for 8 hours. It melted into a pulled beef heaven. But, I’m not here writing about my wife’s skill at cooking, we’re here to talk about this sauce. I’ve been huge on eating lots of proteins and stuff like that, so one day I took some of the left over skirt steak, microwaved it with some of Mama’s Fire BBQ and poured it over some brown rice. When I was finished a small tear came to my eye, because I realized there was none left. Not only was the beef gone, but so was the BBQ sauce.  :(

I am a big fan of both of these sauces as you can tell, and I think you ought to give them a try. I still have a bit of the hot sauce left, so I haven’t started shaking from the Mama’s Fire dt’s yet.

Off the couch, Off the cushion

I’ve been away for a little while… my apologies for the gap in between postings here.

My travels on the “spiritual path” over the past 5, almost 6, years led me to a place I was getting very uncomfortable with. I needed to make some decisions and choose what was most important to me. My life, due to an inadequate amount of energy, ambition and motivation had become stagnant.

For to long I had neglected not only my close relationships, but neglected my health.  Sitting around all day on the couch, tapping away at this computer was not any sort of rigorous activity. Seated upon my zafu, while good for my mind, was doing nothing for me but bringing me closer to a state of contentment. I was ok with just being! Sorry to all the great teachers and masters that say “just be”, it is not that easy, nor does it just make sense.

To “just be” indicates a level of complacency, it means being ok with what and where you are in life. It also means, there is no change, that things just are what they are. To that I stick my middle finger high in the air, I am not ok with it at all! Change is not something that happens, shit happens.

Change is something that is strived for, something we work at. You can’t expect it to happen without putting in a little work, without getting up and doing something about it. It goes for any area of our lives, we need to do something.

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Where I’m At

As you may have noticed, or maybe not, posts have become erratic at best here at Precious Metal. I’m going to explain why, and where this is all going, or not going.

When I started this blog, I had the best of intentions. I planned to chronicle my entrance into the stream, and to report on things I learned along the way. The blog started morphing into something more than just that. I started reviewing things like books, DVDs and most recently vegetarian/ vegan food products.

With all of this, a certain level of “promotion” was necessary, that way the blog, and products that were being reviewed, got noticed more. I got a Facebook page, a Twitter page and anything else I thought would help. I delved right into it all, I mean REALLY delved into it. It began to overwhelm my life, and sadly, I wasn’t seeing it.

This practice started enveloping every moment of my life as well. I took every opportunity to talk about it, telling people all the time what it had done for me. How I was able to see things so differently. The fact of the matter is, I wasn’t seeing anything, I was just regurgitating the same things I’ve read in a million books I’ve read. This buzz word was used, that story was quoted, etc. Cutting through all that bullshit, the real work is living right now. I’ve become more aware of the fact I was using it as a crutch of sorts. I have no intention to do that anymore.

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