Fundraiser in effect for “When The Iron Bird Flies” project

A while back I reviewed a great documentary about the Nuns of Tsonkyi Nangchen called “Blessings”. The same production group has been diligently working on another project called “When The Iron Bird Flies”.

WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES: Tibetan Buddhism Arrives in the West is the first feature length documentary to take a comprehensive look at the impact Tibetan Buddhism is having on Western culture. The film creates a vivid portrait of the world of Tibetan Buddhism as it is manifesting in the West–from the personal experiences and insights of teachers and practitioners to the wide-ranging dialogues taking place between Buddhist teachings and the worlds of science, psychology, and the arts. – excerpt taken from Kickstarter fundraising site

In order to fully fund the project, they are hoping to raise about $30,000. They are in the final stages of editing and the money will be used to cover those expenses. They are almost a third of the way to their goal.

Can you help?

If you can contribute please visit their Kickstarter page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2107396078/when-the-iron-bird-flies You can also see a teaser of the film at the page. Any donation level is accepted and appreciated!

Wearing me out man!

I posted a quote to my Facebook page today. Some people got the underlying idea that I was trying to convey, while others read into it a bit much and I got some nasty messages about it. So what did I post? Here it is…

“Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” ~ Tyler Durden

I wasn’t trying to burst anyone’s bubble, or make them feel like their shiny happy life wasn’t filled with rainbows and butterflies. They can keep on believing that all they want, all I say is good luck with that!!

What I was trying to point out was the fact we all open our eyes in the morning, we all close them at night. When we do close them, we all hope we will open them in the morning. Because, to be perfectly honest, you never know when they will stay shut. The happy shiny world you live in can come to an end at any point, and it doesn’t matter what you have that’s going to make it any better.

Yeah, your Ming vase might look nice, maybe it draws a bit of admiration from your friends. Regardless of what the vase is, and what it does for your “status”, guess what? When the worms start feeding they could care less what you had, you and I will taste the same. I’m sure most Ming vase owners are not reading this post, so it is, in a sense, falling on deaf ears.

I guess what I am trying to convey here, in not so many words, is the fact we all suffer the same. I’ve been full of piss and vinegar lately because of my poor life. What makes me think I suffer any less than the rest of the world. For crying out loud, the stuff I got going on pales in comparison to  the shit a large percent of the worlds populace is dealing with.

I’m not telling you to live your life in a certain way, I’m telling you how I refuse to live mine. I refuse to mope around crying “poor me” all the damn time. I refuse to play the role of victim and moan about my so called rough life. To tell you the truth, it’s fucking wearing me out man!

Get Up!

This post is inspired by a song I’ve been stuck on lately, for some reason I can’t get this song out of my head. The song, “Get Up”, is a collaboration between the nu-metal band Korn and the dubstep act Skrillex.  I know, it’s not death metal, but there’s a message in it that has got me thinking a bit lately. I’ve been kind of a debbie downer because of certain things going on in my life. At first, I really related to the following lyrics…

Times are looking grim these days
Holding on to everything
It’s hard to draw the line
And I, I’m hiding in this empty space
Tortured by my memories
Of what I left behind

I would just mope around, poor me… Why is this happening to me? Boo hoo!

But, after listening to the song, especially the chorus— I realized the message was not about feeling bad for yourself. Those lyrics goes something like…

Shut the f#$k up, get up!

Jonathan Davis, lead singer of Korn, was not just saying it, he was yelling it at the top of his lungs. I could swear he was yelling these words right in my direction.

It felt like he was just grabbing me by the collar and smacking me in the face. Like he was saying “get up… stop feeling sorry for yourself.. get over yourself and do something…”

Looking into the mirror, I don’t see a sorry person.

I look in the mirror and see someone who is strong, resolved and brushing himself off.

There is no time like the here and now to get up, no time like the present to make the changes that need to be made. I can’t sit around hoping and mumbling mantras that somehow the cosmic forces of the universe are going to make it ok. Because, no-one or no thing can make the change, it’s up to me.

So, no more moping, it’s nothing but forward motion from here on out.

“But I Can’t Even Do Splits”

Ed. Note: This is a great guest post by my new friend, Allie Brooks. Allie went to the University of Mississippi and earned her degree in biomedical anthropology. She is now enforcing her hard work to field studies regarding the effects of biomedicalization of traditional healing practices in Bolivia. Being an inexperienced yoga dude, I appreciate and thank her for this piece. Hopefully you are inspired by the message.

As The New Year Approaches:
Try something new to have fun and get fit

Every December and January, the same talks get discussed; New Year’s Resolutions. You promise yourself to go to the gym, lose weight, don’t eat chocolate, it’s the same ole same ole. Many of times the reasons why these promises do not get fulfilled is because you get bored half way through and even the sight of a gym makes you turn the other way. That is why you need to adopt a program that is fun, relaxing, and intense. This is why yoga is the perfect solution to any resolution. I know I know, you are thinking, “but I can’t even do the splits” that is why yoga is perfect. There are so many forms of yoga that there is one out there for you. Trust me.

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Fine Tuning The Body, Reconnecting With The Mind

For the past few months, while my mind may not have been so tuned in on a practice level, I’ve been working quite a bit on my body. I was feeling lethargic, easily beaten down when doing anything physical, basically I was out of shape.

As you read in my recent post “Running Is As Running Does”, or maybe you didn’t, I have been running a bit. That has not been the only physical activity I’ve done. I have been doing a workout program called P90X, I am sure by now you’ve all heard of it. Working out at home is perfect for me, a gym is not a place where I plan to go, not only because I do not fit the mold of the “lift things up and put them down” guys but because most of them are outrageously priced. I was able to get P90X for a very reasonable cost from someone on Craigslist.

At first I thought, this can’t possibly work, it’s just another infomercial scam. I put my initial thoughts about it aside though and gave it my all. The first day, the chest and back workout, kicked my behind. That is putting it lightly, I was sore as hell the next day. I was invigorated though so I went about the second day, the plyometrics workout. Plyometrics, or jump training, is to the wall cardio style. Not only are you jumping, you are running in place, etc. Needless to say, the next day not only was my chest and back still sore, but my legs were wasted.

I am just about at the end of the 90 days and I have to say this, I have never, EVER, been in good physical condition as I am now. 15 or so years ago, I did have a workout partner and we went to a gym, but I never felt this good. At age 37 it’s quite impressive, to me at least.

Lately, I’ve finally been able to make some time to start up a sitting practice again. Because of the fitness, I feel like my sessions are stronger than they were before. My form is a little better and my mind feels in tune with my body because of that. My breathing, because of all the cardio and relentless exercise, has become more refined and is easier to follow.

I am really starting to understand the mind/ body connection, I guess I never really gave it much thought before. It is extremely important to this practice. Once again, I have come back to the beginning of all of this practice stuff. Each time, I come back to it with a fresh approach. This time, it feels a bit more organic, and things are a bit more in tune. I hope you enjoy this post.

Book Review: The Buddha Walks Into A Bar

“The Buddha Walks Into A Bar: A Guide To Life For A New Generation”
Written by Lodro Rinzler
Published by Shambhala Publications

Lodro Rinzler joins the ranks of other GenX American practitioners/ teachers such as Ethan Nichtern, Brad Warner, Noah Levine and more, to get into the writing world. While not breaking any new ground, Lodro explains things in a very practical and down to earth style. Coming from a specific tradition, Vajrayana in the Shambhala lineage, there is of course helpful hints and tips based on those teachings.

Lodro introduces some witty anectdotes that reflect circumstances from his life. One particular story I enjoyed was one where he was at Karme Choling and an incident occurred where some workers there had some tension. The outcome was not some profound wisdom on his part, but was the wisdom of a fellow retreatant that he witnessed and learned from. Lodro tells the reader how to recognize events in everyday life as lessons. From the simplest of things, there are always things we can slow down, reflect on and gain some wisdom from.

That doesn’t mean he circles round the daisies here folks, he tackles many subjects that make most Buddhist purists get all uppity and offended. From sex, to beer Lodro tackles just about every situation you could possibly get yourself into. He does not denounce either of them, as a matter of fact, he says just the opposite. He talks about embracing them. Drinking a beer for instance, it’s not about getting drunk, but grab a hold of that beer, drink it, notice it and see what effects it has on you. I’m of course paraphrasing here, you’ll have to get a copy of the book to better understand what I was getting at.

All in all, Lodro has written a gem here. His openness is valuable, and his wisdom palapable. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

Running is, as running does…

I never understood why Forest kept running and running, heck I never understood why people ran at all. But, running has become a huge part of my life over the past few months.

My health has not been so good lately, and I decided it was time to do something about it. I thought of a couple ways I could, and I started doing it. The first few times I barely jogged a 1/2 mile, it would kill my legs and I honestly felt defeated half of the time. I knew I had to overcome that self-defeat and kept pushing. I got myself up to a mile, a mile and a half, to being able to complete 3 mile runs.

In September I ran my first 5k and finished in a little over 30 minutes, 31 minutes and 33 seconds to be exact. I was blown away by my time, blown away by the fact I could hold my own against people who were way more fit than I. I was happy beyond belief, though, to have even finished.

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Film Review: Crazy Wisdom

“Crazy Wisdom”
A film by Johanna Demetrakas

“Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully. What we see doesn’t have to be pretty, particularly; we can appreciate anything that exists. There is some principle of magic in everything, some living quality. Something living, something real, is taking place in everything.”

I have been looking forward to seeing this for some time. I have to admit, I have not read a ton of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, but what I have read, and know about him, he was quite the audacious and in your face type of guy. His form of wisdom, appropriately dubbed crazy wisdom, broke many of the molds that westerners thought Buddhism was.

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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.