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An MRI, STAT

I love experiencing life’s unusual happenings. In our interconnected world it’s good to travel down many paths. Empathy is best learned with knowledge. Sometimes the only way you really know about something is to walk the walk.

Last week I had an MRI of my spine and brain.

Lucky me… one hospital visit and two MRI’s.

In the days leading up to the scan I was warned of the hell I would go through and how taking a sedative is the best option. I laughed and explained I wasn’t that claustrophobic, and besides, “I’m a Buddhist, we just meditate.”

What I found unbelievably cool was that I was booked to have my scan at 1am at St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver. Our medical system has decided to run a graveyard shift in an attempt to clear off the backlog of people waiting for scans.

At that time of night the only entrance available was through the ER. It’s a pretty active place in the early morning hours. And when I say active I mean the mayhem of people and bodies and police and paramedics. It looked like a war zone. A security guard pointed me towards a corridor and opened the locked doors to let me pass.

Moments later I was in the deserted main building. I’ve been here before and know the halls to be packed with people. Now there was just silence. Empty silence.

Upstairs at the MRI clinic there was a receptionist and one other person. I was asked to take a seat and as I settled in I could hear the machine working away. I had been warned about the noise.

Once it was my turn the technician went through the procedure and how we would do this. I got to wear scrubs and was allowed to keep my blessing cord around my neck. “I have to keep it on because of my religion… and it’s only string.”

I thought I could use the religious line because of the sign in the waiting room. If the hospital was going to talk about God I would toss back a little bit about Buddha.  All’s fair.

I will admit the procedure was not fun. One scan would have been fine but to do two back-to-back was brutal. Yes, I did a “taking and sending” meditation and will also admit to singing Ed Sheeran songs in my head. 46 minutes is a long time to stay absolutely still. Eddie helped.

Before I knew it I was out of there with nothing but kudos for the people that work the night shift.

Too bad I have to wait until January to see the specialist about the results.

Maybe the people in charge need to think this through a little bit more.

 

 

 

That pissed you off?

These last couple of weeks has tried my patience and stoked my resolve. A broken phone, work problems, and endless bureaucracy timesucks. Through it all I’ve attempted to keep my heart empathetic and my language as tame as it can be when I’m upset. I’ll let the people around me judge how I did…

Well except for that one guy. He’s the man with the brilliant idea to attack my religion. No, in truth he didn’t really attack the religion, he attacked me for my religious beliefs. It was probably my fault for announcing that January 24 was the 17th anniversary of taking my vows to become a Tibetan Buddhist. It’s a special time for me but I should have been quiet. These days you never know what will rile people up when it comes to religion and personal beliefs.

Though as a Tibetan Buddhist I have it pretty good. People don’t tend to say bad things about His Holiness the Dalia Lama. What are you going to say… he laughs too much?

But this man decided to get very vocal about my choice and “why if you were born a Christian would you EVER decide to change religions, are you stupid?”

The only stupid thing I did was stay at the table where he was and let him rant at me. He did go on and on. I just laughed. I also asked him why he cared. This made him a tad angrier. I laughed even more.

I do not advise laughing at strangers when they are mad at you.

Luckily he got tired of taunting me and left to probably judge someone else.

I was left with the knowledge that a Muslim would not have gotten off as easy as I did.

Hate is everywhere and can easily catch fire.

I was blessed to leave that all behind and go spend a few days at Long Beach to look out at the ocean.

Hate is everywhere and the water’s edge is my antidote.

Long Beach, Vancouver Island January 25, 2017

 

 

Faith

My goal this week is to write about nothing. The ridiculous concept we Tibetan Buddhists endlessly chase after.

The dilemma is, “nothing means nothing.”

What I learnt on Sunday is that faith in nothing is the answer.

And that’s the conundrum.

Luckily I had a very wise man attempt to explain this to me.

Luckily I have faith in him.

Luckily he explained it in a way that gave a glimmer of what the answer is.

Faith is a tough one. Trust follows a close second.

Six weeks ago my doctor said I had nothing to worry about. Four weeks ago he called back, said he was wrong and told me there’s a problem.

Two weeks ago I had a stable place to call home. Five days ago that concept evaporated.

Four days ago Lotsawa David Karma Choephel gave a teaching on impermanence and faith at the Thrangu Monastery.

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I grasped his every word.

One of the rare times when you believe a message was designed for that perfect moment.

It gave me faith in this fickle world.

Lotsawa David is a translator for some of the highest teachers in the Tibetan Buddhist world. He’s also a longtime and learned practitioner with endless credentials. It’s obvious he has absorbed a great deal of wisdom along the way. He is a patient man. That helps when attempting to explain the dharma to someone like me.

The Buddhist teachings on emptiness really makes no sense when you put a western twist on the concept. The hard part is to put aside your habitual way of thinking and trust there is something more. A great teacher can be the impetus to dig through your habitual crap. Luckily I live in a time and place where I’m surrounded by people to help with the journey.

Faith is something we believe in but can’t prove. The concept is impossible. How do you carry on when your faith has been shaken? You can’t always dodge the facts.

Life is easier if you have faith in impermanence. Trust that everything is going to change.

Everything.

I carry on with knowing I don’t know. This serves me well.

It leaves me with faith in nothing… and this means I have hope.

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Meditation and Murder

Our minds are forever leaping around. Jumping from one thought to another. I was reminded of this when I reintroduced some serious meditation back into my daily routine.

The return was not planned but when I decluttered my apartment I realized I had room for a perfect meditation space. A little corner that reminded me of the “boxes” we used up at the Tibetan Buddhist retreat on Salt Spring Island. Practitioners spent hours in these comfy setups. I could easily devote a little time to my spiritual side if I set up something similar.

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It seems to have worked and I’m back to my daily practice.

I love the flowing recitation of Tibetan words.

I love the view.

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Right now the bulk of my time on the cushion is doing the taking and sending meditation. It’s simple. You think of a person and breathe in any negative surrounding them and then breathe out something positive directed their way. It can be happiness, joy, health… whatever they may need.

This is a very common meditation.

My mind wandered as I settled in with my list of people this morning. I randomly started to think of some of the friends I saw this past weekend… my writing friends.

Then I laughed. Many are crime fiction writers. They spend hours thinking of murder and mayhem and here I was attempting to send them happy thoughts.

That’s when it hit me. As I visualized each one of them I realized these writers are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They are good and decent and generous.

I’ve written about them in past blogs… Owen Laukkanen, Sam Wiebe and even those non-crime types like Terry Fallis and kc dyer.

Now I’m not saying all writers are nice people… God knows that’s not true. But I am saying the ones I surround myself with these days get a gold star.

Go follow Owen on Twitter. His tweet yesterday announced the debut of his latest book and gave thanks for his many blessings. With Owen, what you see is what you get, a good man and a very talented writer.

Have people just gotten nicer? Happier? Kinder?

I don’t think so.

But last year I just made the decision to surround myself with better people.

So far so good.

This means my morning meditation is not just about breathing in negative and sending positive.

It’s the realization of just how blessed I am these days.

Even if many of my friends are thinking about clever ways to kill people.

my writing frinds