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Archive for September, 2008

Last week, a dear friend’s dog died. He only had the opportunity to know him for a week: he had been abandoned at a temple, left and unwanted. He only had three legs.

My friend named him Milo after the chocolately drink. The temple took him in, and the devotees washed him, fed him, played with him, and gave him a home.

Then one morning they found him – lifeless, with blood strewn about. Some guessed a coyote had come down from the hills during the night but, regardless, after one week at the temple his life was over.

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When discussing the need to defend Buddhism against the impending tyranny of other religions, or even worse, the true Dharma against the backwards teachings of those other Buddhists, I have always taken the position that what is true does not need defending because, more often than not, when confronted with a teaching that leads to peace, to kindness, to contentment, to freedom – it doesn’t need any defending at all.

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A previous survey of zafu prices found the average online price to hover around $47. This is a lot of money, so I wanted to find out how much it costs if you make your own zafu. Sadly I don’t have that kind of time. Fortunately I have a friend who wanted to make her own zafu. I sent her these zafu making instructions, and asked her to keep track of the cost and time spent making it. She went out and bought $11 of fabric from Joann, which was twice the necessary amount. I went out and bought three pounds of kapok ($20), enough for more than two zafus. My friend took out her sewing machine and while watching Star Wars, sewed together the cushion (about two and a half hours). She packed in the stuffing this past weekend. So I’d say a reasonable estimate is $16 for making this zafu from scratch. Compared with the $47 you’d pay for a meditation cushion online, that means these zafu sellers are making an outrageous profit! If you feel crafty enough, I’d say that you should go make your own meditation cushion. You save money and you walk away with a greater sense of accomplishment!

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Mental dump

Just got back off a five hour drive from San Francisco. Some thoughts…

Finally I understand why monks are supposed to sleep on low beds. I’ve been spending the last few nights with a quilt across two zabuton (and a pillow). As a result I would only lie down to sleep for the sake of sleep, not for any pleasure at all! (I still got good sleep.)

I love staying with family because I can waste five minutes of my day by gently taking an ant outside, and no one will question why, and no one makes me defend expending so much effort for the sake of a little ant.

Someone should install a traffic camera at the corner of Oak and Octavia. The city could make millions on those tickets. And maybe it would even be safer.

Much time with family also meant much time speaking our language! I think it’s definitely important to speak another language with family for at least the following reasons. [1] You can talk about people in the same room without them knowing. (“Don’t nag Mom right now, she’s having a bad day.”) [2] Language is like a cultural glue. If you have language, you have almost direct access to so many aspects of culture, from recipes to history to religion. If you try to study a culture without its language, learning about it is like crawling the net with a dial-up modem. [3] Language binds family at a very deep emotional level. You share a knowledge that no one else has. [4] Perhaps the most obvious reason: if you don’t speak it, your language just might die out.

Lastly, I just came across an article from Urban Dharma with the topic: How will the Sangha fare in North American Buddhism? More about this later. But first sleep, and I shall sleep for the joy of it too.

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