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Showing posts from August, 2017

LIVE AND LET DIE

They say that if you die in your dream, then you give up the ghost in real life. I'm sure this proverb has ancient origins, but I was introduced to it as a 13-year-old while spending the night with my brothers at the house of a family friend. To get in our good graces, Ms. Carruthers offered to rent us whatever movie struck our fancy. My brothers, being horror buffs, chose Nightmare on Elm Street. If Freddy Kreuger, the child molester who had been burned to death only to come back to life and haunt the dreams of the descendants of his murderers, visited you in your sleep and sliced you to death with his razor sharp hands, then you wouldn't wake back up. A modified version of the "die in your dream, die in real life" trope also underlies the Matrix movies.

But can who you really are be ever said to die? Is it possible for the consciousness that is your true nature, and is birthless and deathless, to ever know death? No. Then what about the movie? If you drown in your d…

GOOD THINGS COME: ONE

Shortly before my mother passed away, on August 10, 2016, she asked that I mourn her for one full year. The family was gathered around her as she lay in bed, and she looked at her sisters and her mother and then at me when she delivered her decree. 

I don't know how or why she designated twelve months as the length of time in which to grieve. And I don't know exactly what the lady who went by the name Laraine Dave had in mind as far as the grieving process goes. Mourning isn't something you just turn off like a valve. But there was a lot about my mother I didn’t understand, even after living under the same roof with her for nearly 35 of the 43 and a half years I spent as her son. My mother could be mysterious. She liked that quality about herself, even appreciated it in the cancer that had gone undetected in her body for over a fifteen years. “It’s all so mysterious,” she’d say, with a slight feminine lisp at the end.

Around the same time as she made her dying request, my mo…

"I" TIMES

The last decade or so has been party to a bevy of medical doctors who have transitioned from the practice of medicine to the potentially even more lucrative market of weight loss. These individuals, men mostly, with their clinics and their cook shows, their books and their slogans, attempt to establish themselves as the last word on nutrition. The last word is really a lengthy sentence or perhaps a paragraph, since their number is legion.

I happened upon one of the newer food gurus, whose name is Mark Hyman, MD. His degree doesn't guarantee he has the knowledge to lecture on nutrition, since the standard medical education often excludes or at best glosses over this important aspect of preventative health. But how the public loves its medical men! So his initials do get him an audience, and since medical doctors have to sit through lots of lectures to get through school, his degree ensures that by a sort of osmosis he becomes a fairly decent public speaker himself.

But just what kind…

THE 5-STAR SELF

The Hotel Bel-Air, located 1.5 miles from the home in which I grew up in sunny Southern California, has been the site of many a personal adventure. I was first introduced to the lovely space when my parents took me there for dinner on my 11th birthday. My mother dressed me in a suit, and as we sat in the restaurant's quaint alcove I got to order whatever dish I desired, as long as it was vegetarian. Which at a fancy restaurant usually means overcooked carrots swimming in sauce. 

I wasn't all that hungry anyway. Midway through our meal I was overcome with terrible stomach pain, so we had to skip dessert. This is not to disparage those soggy carrots. I'd get these stomach aches - characterized by crampy, achy pain in the left side of my tummy, just below my belly button - every few months starting around the age of 8. Usually they'd be accompanied by nausea but never vomiting, keep me up half the night writhing in pain, only to resolve spontaneously come morning. I had my…

YOUR SO-CALLED LIFE

Your temperament is fixed at birth. Your personality is colored by experiences you have no memory of. And your life's ultimate course is largely directed by events that are out of your control.

Repeat the above lines three times, then try and forget you ever read them. Because the person who results from this confluence of factors is not you. You  are as much who you think you are as John Malkovich is Osborne Cox, and it's funny, but he's not.

Rather, you are the witnessing consciousness which is party to the experiences making your so-called life. Your thoughts are not you. They are as unpredictable is as the weather. Winds come, tides rise, and we wonder why. And then it all subsides. Fears and worries occur, and a moment later joys and pleasures somehow take their place. And we wonder why. Just as you are party to changes in the weather without identifying with the wind and the rain, your thoughts are also not you. Or if you are your thoughts, you are also the weather, an…

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Do you ever ask yourself, "What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of my existence? Why am I here?"

If you do, trust that you are on the right track. I often wonder why I am alive. I go days without interacting with anyone, in part because I have no desire to. There really is nothing I desire - other than to help the very people whom I do not wish to spend any time with. It sometimes seems that life consists merely of my keeping spirit attached to body by means of eating food. Granted, that food is always good. As in nutritious, delicious and unprocessed. Just yesterday I made some killer garbanzo beans with potatoes and broccoli and onions, garnished with tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olives and jalapenos. Oh, and a little nutritional yeast for that cheesiness. I took this over to my brother's for dinner and shared it with my loved ones. They liked it, and I was in the mood for company.

But other than keeping spirit and body together, and the house clean, and g…

I GET AROUND

I love running, and for that matter biking. Just not driving, because I hate getting stuck in traffic. And when I'm on foot, or on two wheels, if I happen upon a back-up or a build-up, I can just go around.

Take today. As I ran along the road a construction worker yelled out to me, "Go, barefoot runner. Warrior style!" Construction guys love me, I'm not sure why. Perhaps because they see something in me they can relate to. I have been called rugged, even rough-hewn. I just hope I'm not as leathery or as paunchy as the many men who've been installing high voltage power upgrades on my street lately. Lovable fellas, really. I'll remind myself to give them a copy of my book. That'll be the end of that paunch.

Later today - while I was biking - I happened upon a road-block of police vehicles. They were escorting this big rig or semi or whatever you call those things up the canyon road. The semi was so big it took up both lanes, and going so slowly that I …

THIS IS ME WITH THE MUNCHIES

Yesterday, as I drove into to town on my weekly trip to the grocery store, I found myself surfing radio stations. These days I hardly listen to music. It wasn't always like this. In fact, not too long ago I couldn't go on a run of even a couple miles without my iPod funneling sounds into my ears. Then one day, while running through the rain on an uncharacteristically wet day in March - this was during the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon - my headphones got water-logged and stopped working late in the race. So I needed to complete the final 10 kilometers without tunes. And I found I liked it. Now when I run I prefer to listen to the birds, or to the breeze, or to my own bare feet slapping the pavement.

Music used to be ever-present in my life, and not only while exercising. I'd listen to rock or classical while studying, while getting some rays, and of course while making love. But then it was all about Marvin Gaye. Nowadays something curious happens whenever I listen to a song.…

YOU ARE WHAT YOU SEEK

During my teenage years, like most people, I identified with my body and mind: my name, set of circumstances, personality traits, life experiences, etc. In other words, I believed I was the role I was playing, whatever it happened to be at the time. But is your ego-based personality really you?

In high school I was a good student and varsity athlete who enjoyed popularity in various social circles. Then I graduated, got a job waiting tables and started college. Suddenly I was a nobody riding my dad’s ten-speed bicycle to school and getting chain grease all over my jeans. I gained weight, broke out in acne and stopped caring about my appearance. It was the first time in my life I really struggled. I thought of dropping my courses, but I didn’t know what else to do if not go to school. Throughout my formative years, studying had been what I was best at! My high school buddies had gone away to college, so I didn’t have any friends nearby. Embarrassed by my physical transformation but un…

JUST GO WITH IT

The question that frequently gets asked whenever I quote Krishna's words, spoken over 5000 years ago and recorded in the Bhagavad Gita: "You are not the doer of your actions," is this: 

If not me, then who controls me?"

You are not the person you think you are, the individual with a particular body and mind; rather, you are the witnessing consciousness associated with that person. And though you may think that this person you think you are is in control of his actions, everything you do happens independently of any conscious decision on your part. The unconscious stirs, and action occurs - and only then, perhaps a split second after the intention has already arisen, so quick as to be almost coincident, your mind assigns agency to your person, and you pat yourself on the back and label yourself an achiever of great deeds.

Okay, maybe you don't go so far. But this tendency is ego-syntonic, in that believing you are the doer entrenches you in the notion that you are m…