Monday, March 24, 2008


Here's a poem I wrote today. The poem itself is not perfection, just the intention behind it.

The first thing I want to say is
you are all perfect.
It took the Heavenly Father
billions of years
to negotiate just the right amount of
star explosions
tidal forces
lava rivers
geometrical disturbances, and
alchemical reactions to produce this
The Earthly Mother was implanted by the seed
of the Sun, and
gave birth to you.
Inside of the coconut is her breast milk.
All of her life,
her seeds, and
her fruit
are for you to eat.
This is your meat.
All of the sky is your room to grow.
The, Tree Of Life,
gives blessings to you
every day.
All you see in nature is perfection,
and all you can see in yourself is
But the shimmering, still lake
looks back at you
and all it sees is

Monday, March 17, 2008

Manifestations and Mindfulness

Is there a paradox between living in this moment and manifesting a future? Is it possible to view the universe just as it is without any individual perceptions? I have been struggling with these two questions recently. My Sensai Monshin Naamon, from the Tendai Buddhist tradition has said that he does not believe in manifestation. Yet, there is a time in our meditation service where we focus our, "thoughts and prayers" on those who are sick, or having some other type of problem. But if you do not believe that people have the ability to manifest happiness, health and prosperity, then what are we doing when we are giving our, "thoughts and prayers" to these people or conditions? Obviously, I have to ask him this question, and hear what his answer is.
I understand how one attains Buddha hood by giving up our preconceptions and prejudices, and to see life as it is. I know every aspect of life is impermanent and that all suffering comes from our desires, and fear of change. I know that my perception as an individual is a false perception, and there is nothing which separates me from everything else in the universe. I know we train our minds through meditation and chanting mantras. Yet, I also know 500 Buddhist monks praying for non violence in Washington D.C. cut the homicide rate down by a third, and that experiment has been demonstrated before with the same results in different places. What caused the homicide rate to go down? Did the monks visualize peace in Washington D.C. and manifest that outcome? I don't know, but I suspect they did.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Foraging! here was my first thought on the concept of foraging: "You have to be the cheapest person in the world!" Now, here is my opinion today: "Out there in the woods is the healthiest food in the world!"
Almost every thing we eat in a typical U.S. diet is: pasteurized, hybridized, radiated, poisoned, genetically modified, and chemically altered. If you go into any U.S. grocery store, and buy anything but the organic products, (not to say that all the organics are good for you either) you are ingesting the worst drugs (food) you can put into your body. We should call grocery stores, Drug Stores, not just for the reasons I've mentioned above, but the food/drugs they sell are a quick fix to feel good. Their products are filled with carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, too much sodium etc., to give you the feeling of being full, and the feeling of being full-filled. But, like any other drug, you're going to crash and burn. I am not making a mistake calling food, drugs, here. There is no difference! The problem with the food/drugs the doctors give you is that you are already sick by the time they give it to you. And, the food they give you treats, what? The symptoms of your disease, which is poor nutrition, poor environmental conditions and/or a poor self image.
This summer I'm going to look for the wild plants that surround us. The first, wonderful thing about foraging, as I mentioned before is, the food is free. That speaks for itself. The second wonderful thing about foraging is, the plants have not been altered, ever! They evolved because they are strong, and all the nutrients we need are out there, in those unspoiled plants.
There are a couple of things to think about, though. Be sure you're not foraging on a super-fund sight, and be sure, if you're foraging in a city, state or federal park, be aware of people with badges and guns. Of course it would be wrong to dig up our parks, but gathering some blueberries shouldn't be a crime. I know their argument: If you let people forage, they're going to take advantage of it and, destroy the park. Trust me, in this culture, you are never going to find enough people performing the more difficult task of foraging to eat. Just don't take all of the blueberries, all right. And, save some for the bears and birds.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Buddhism Homework

Below, is a completed “homework” assignment given to me by my Sensei Monshin Naamon from the Karuna Tendai Dharma Center. This is my work, and has not been sanctioned or adopted by the Karuna Tendai Dharma Center. I believe it would be beneficial to all if we could adopt, some, or all of these responsibilities as members of our global society.

Responsibilities for the Members of the Karuna Tendai Dharma Center

1) Members of the Tendai Buddhist Institute will be a group that practices love and compassion for all beings. To achieve this aim, members will be mindful of their impact on those they come in contact with. Showing patience, love and respect for others. They will be mindful of the environment by not consuming energy or food resources unnecessarily above and beyond their physical needs, and by doing the least amount of harm to non-human animals. Members will work to promote peace in their community, nationally and globally.

2) Members will be active participants with-in their Sangha by being students of the Dharma, by attending meditation services, Sangha events and retreats whenever possible. Members will also support the Sensei in his/her pastoral duties when called upon to service. Also, members will give financially, what they can afford to the Tendai Buddhist Institute, so that it may carry out the purposes of its mission statement.

3) Members will practice non-attachment to the physical and nonphysical world. Members will not be influenced by wealth and fame, or by the desire for things that others may be perceived to have. Members should understand that all things are impermanent, so therefore there is no ownership of any material, living or spiritual objects in which to possess.

4) Members will practice being in the present moment at all times, knowing that the future and the past do not exist. Members will not attempt to escape the present moment by using drugs and alcohol, but always being sober and clear headed. Also, Members will practice the realization that all one sees is their own perception of the world. Therefore, Members will not be stringent or self-righteous in the way they conduct their daily lives, but will be filled with humility, understanding and loving-kindness when engaging other people.

5) Members have the responsibility for seeking there own enlightenment, and praying for the enlightenment of every sentient being.

This second part, is another "homework" assignment that I wrote, concerning the First Cardinal Precept in Buddhist philosophy.

The First Cardinal Precept: Not To Deprive Any Being of Life

Sentient beings are defined as, “characterized by sensation and consciousness” by, this attempts to qualify one form of life: life that is aware of its own existence. I would presume these specific life forms are the “Life” one is not to deprive from any other being. Microscopic bacteria, viruses, insects, parasites etc. can and are killed by our very existence. As humans, we have not been able to perceive any ability by these organisms to suffer from real or imagined pain. Certain religious groups such as the Jains seek to do no harm to any living organism, but to deny ourselves life would be the only way to not participate in their demise. The most important work on this subject, I believe, is Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation” which goes beyond non human animals “rights”, but to their capacity to suffer. Since it is the nature of every sentient being to: One, live and Two, to live without needless pain or suffering, it would seem to be an axiom for a Buddhist to not contradict these natural laws.

It has been perceived wisdom for some Buddhists for many, many years, from what I understand, that the precept covers specifically the person doing the killing. That is, one is not responsible for the depriving of life from any being as long as it was not done by ones own hands. Consequently, one may go to the grocery store and buy the packaged meat, fowl or fish and not be in violation of the precept. Or more so, it is not in violation of the precept to accept food prepared by someone who killed or purchased meat, fowl, or fish. This way of thinking would make it acceptable if someone contracted a killing for a person, and that killing resulted in a benefit to the contractor, but as long as that person did not get their ‘hands dirty’ per se., there would be no violation to the precept. I believe, that any person partaking of meat, fowl or fish is responsible for the life that was deprived by their decision to eat that living being. In fact, it has been calculated that a vegetarian saves approximately one hundred lives a year just by refusing to eat non human animals. The butcher does not kill regardless to the demand of his efforts.

Another important aspect of not depriving life to humans and non humans are environmental concerns. Some of these, such as: Global warming, pollution, toxic dumping etc. are direct violent attacks on life. Indeed, there is a concern to environmentalists that the planet will suffer mass extinctions in the near future due to human influence. We can make the same argument as before, that a certain amount of environmental suffering will take place just by our very existence. The building of a house will up-root trees and may destroy underground homes of various non human animals. The wood to build the house may have devastated a forest, and perhaps the wood was treated with a poison that pollutes the soil and water where it was made. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Buddhist to be sensitive to the environment by buying products that do not pollute, by conserving energy, and by recycling used products.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fifteen Great Foods

I went to the website, veganpeace, which is not a raw site, but they have a lot of nutritional information on vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. They have graphs which break down the vitamins and minerals in a particular food, Kale for example. It will tell you that one cup of Kale has 134% of the daily amount of vitamin C we supposedly need, (I’m not being sarcastic) 206% of vitamin A, 684% of vitamin K, 26% of manganese, and so on, and so forth. And with all that, you can also click on specific vitamins and minerals, and it will tell you which foods have the most of these nutrients.
So, I thought, maybe it would make sense to go through all of the vitamins and minerals and see if I can come up with, let’s say, ten foods which would satisfy our daily needs. Not that I would limit myself to eating these ten foods, but to get an idea of which foods I should, perhaps, concentrate my diet around.

Now, everything changes all of the time, and which foods are good for a raw-living foods person changes like I change my underwear: for example, pickled foods, mushrooms, honey, dried fruits, and anything dehydrated, has gone from bad to good, to good to bad. So, I want to say, without doing a major study, and surely not thinking of every possible nutritional pro or con, and admittedly, having worked on this for about an hour; I have come up with fifteen foods which, pretty much, presumably, cover our nutritional needs.
They are, in no particular order:

1) Spirulina
2) Passion Fruit
3) Almonds
4) Sunflower Seeds
5) Shitaki Mushrooms
6) Oranges
7) Kale
8) Bananas
9) Cacao
10) Raw Tahini (ground sesame seeds)
11) Flax Seeds

12) Avocado
13) Goji Berries
14) Acei
15) Hemp Protein

This list seems, to me, to be helpful. Of course, there is a lot of play within these food varieties. For example, any dark leafy green will give you all the vitamin K you could ever want. But, I thought, given everything I know about food nutrition now, these foods represented the best of their nutritional relatives.