Saturday, July 13, 2013

Unreasonable Happiness, Pt I

Hola mi Gente,
I love it... it’s summer, motherfuckers! Heat, humidity, insanity, and the perfect excuse to go to the beach. Damn!
* * *

Island Life
The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
-- Carlos Castaneda

            Imagine spending the better part of a year living on an island paradise living off low hanging fruit. For company, you have the most beautiful woman (or man). You go barefoot for so long your shoes no longer fit you. Sounds great, right? A dream, a fantasy come true. And it was!
Except for one thing...Wherever I went, there I was.

Let me start over. I have to say that I honestly have no regrets. In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I would make all the same mistakes again -- only sooner. I know this sounds like a cliché (and it is), but it is true. This comes from gratitude. Gratitude is a kind of spiritual dignity. Everything I ever did, everything I have experienced has conspired to create the man you see before you today. And for some time now, I have been truly genuinely grateful for who I am today. It’s not ego. I meet plenty of people who say they love themselves, but what if what you’re “loving” is fucked up? LOL That’s ego, not love.

Every pain, every hardship, every mistake -- all of it -- I would do it all over again, and I have no regrets. Pain is a great teacher. I think it was the poet Gibran who said, “Pain is the breaking of the shell of your understanding.” Today, I try to welcome the negative, the ugly, the positive, and beautiful equally. Our feelings are our children and why would you abandoned the angels with dirty faces and keep only the well-mannered, socially acceptable feelings?

Back to the beach. There you are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Totally untainted by pollution and modern technology. White sands, aquamarine water, pale blue skies smeared with occasional tufts of white cotton candy clouds. Nothing but the moment and the attentions of a goddess/ god of a woman/ man to tend to. Paradise, right? But what if your state of mind doesn’t see it that way? What if you're more concerned with ruminating on the past (memories) and chasing the future (fantasy) than you are in enjoying that island paradise?

What I’m trying to say is that people (the woman), places (the island), or things (possessions) are not the prerequisites for happiness. If you’re feeling fucked up right now, it wouldn’t matter where you were, no sooner that you become habituated and the novelty wears off, you will be back to feeling fucked up. Happiness and joy is a state of being, not a place. Sure, it’s easier to think that you could do the happy place faster if your ideal man or woman was feeding you grapes on some isolated island paradise, but that’s bullshit.

I know...

If you want to be happy (and let’s face it, some of us don’t), then all you have to do is create it. I am a sun worshiper, for example, and my idea of retirement would be to run a used bookstore on some tropical island (mate optional). Still, I live on that island all these years later and you can too. Think of what you think will make you happy. What is your fantasy of happiness? For example, if my island fantasy is to your liking, imagine yourself there. How would you act? How would you look, talk, and walk? What would your frame of mind be like?

Got it? Hold it in your mind. Get all the details down, from your smile to your manner of dress, attitude, etc. 

Now here’s my last question for you: what’s stopping you from living like that right now?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization... 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Wing

Hola Everybody,
I mostly post only original content on my blog, but this story (as retold by the wonderful teacher, Pema Chodron) reminded me of my own efforts to commit to a life on nonviolence while I was incarcerated. This is a brief but powerful story…


One of my favorite stories about Jarvis Masters [a person currently sentenced to death row, who took vows as a Buddhist from behind bars] was when he unintentionally helped some other incarcerated persons connect with the absolute, vast quality of their own minds. There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time. And somehow Jarvis, in this story of trying to avert harm, conveyed this fundamental openness to others.

One day there was a seagull out on the yard in San Quentin. It had been raining and the seagull was there paddling around in a puddle. Someone picked up something in the yard and was about to throw it at the bird. Jarvis didn’t even think about it -- he automatically put out his hand to stop the man. Of course this escalated the man’s aggression and he started yelling. Who the hell did Jarvis think he was? And why did Jarvis care so much about some blankety-blank bird?

Everyone started circling around, just waiting for the fight. The other person was screaming at Jarvis, “Why’d you do that?” And out of Jarvis’s mouth came the words, “I did that because that bird’s got my wings.” 

Everyone got it. It simply stopped their minds, softened their hearts, and then there was silence. 

Have a great holiday weekend everybody!

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…


[un]Common Sense