Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Puppy Zen

You can make the sound of two hands clapping, but what is the sound of one hand going into the bag of kibble? Really good. That's what. 

Suzuki said, "When we are like the frog we are most ourselves." But I think that must be a typo. He meant dog

"Nothing holy," said Bodhidharma so it is such a big deal that I eat the neighbor dog's poo? You like chocolate soft serve. Do I judge?

"Zuikan was a Zen master who always used to address himself. "Zuikan?" he would call. And then he would answer, "Yes!" "Zuikan?" "Yes!" Of course he was living alone in his small zendo and of course he knew who he was, but sometimes he lost himself. And whenever he lost himself he would address himself, "Zuikan!" "Yes!"  Likewise, this is why I chase my tail. It seemed you needed an explanation. 

Really, I should be expected to come when you call me? When the emperor said to Bodhidharma, "Who are you standing in front of me," "I do not know," said Bodhidharma. So, there

Who is this "Sugar," Who is this "I?" And who the heck are "you" at the other end of the leash?

Basho's advice to poets was, "Learn about the pines from the pines, learn about the bamboo from the bamboo." His advice to dogs was unwritten but I bet it was, "learn from barfing in your crate that you will get a bath."

Linji said, "There is nothing I dislike."  All I can say to Linji is, Amen, brother. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's A Dog's Life

Sugar, our 9 week old Bichon puppy is teaching me far more than I am training her.  She cannot read and has little intellect (bless her) yet she lives as Suzuki suggests in  Zen Mind Beginner's Mind. "If we are like the frog, we are always ourselves." But instead of frog, read "9 week old Bichon puppy" (or any animal, really) and you'd be right.

Zuikan was a Zen master who always used to address himself. "Zuikan?" he would call. And then he would answer, "Yes!" "Zuikan?" "Yes!" Of course he was living alone in his small zendo and of course he knew who he was, but sometimes he lost himself. And whenever he lost himself he would address himself, "Zuikan!" "Yes!" 

I know this is what Sugar is doing when she chases her own tail, or when I chase mine. We're checking out the certainty that we exist.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How To Be Sick

@AdamsLisa has taken more shit taking her fight with breast cancer and her choice to be a research subject for interventional treatment at Sloan Kettering live, in real time, on her blog and Twitter through coverage in The New York Times and The Guardian, which were both trying to have an angle on the story of "illness" in "the age of social media." They wanted to form some cultural criticism.

However, it's not exactly news that people get sick.

What does this say about us if there is a "right" way to have an illness in "the age of social media." Who says there is a right way to suffer? Is there a Committee? Thou shalt not selfie your IV bag? Should I not tell you I'm about to go in for an MRI of my brain and spinal column because it might scare you out of your own complacency? We should not want our lives to be uniformly perfectly plastically packaged like grocery store vegetables.  Not everything is ripe. Round. Perfectly red. To my mind that's creepy, and worse: mara, illusion.

Imposing rules and regulations on the expression of someone's personal experience because hearing about stents and metastisis makes "the well" uncomfortable is Victorian. The Victorians covered their piano legs, out of prudery.

We have a long history of fearing the body electric. Let us remember: the body in all its mucosity, carnality and degrade is the only way we experience anything.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Calling All Hypochondriacs

Note to hypochondriacs: all of these titles are real, peer-reviewed scientific journals.

BJUI (The British Journal of Urology. But the acronym is scarier, and makes me want to check my prostate, and I don't even have one.

Calcified Tissue International (I don't know what that is but I think I have my organ of rage.)

Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (What does this mean? Do you care? It's doom-y and German, right up my alley, which, did I mention, feels scratchy and dry.)

Hot Topics on Viral Hepatitis (And only hot topics.)

Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle (If the disease has an 'x' in it I already have three symptoms, and hair loss.)

Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Otherwise known as Disturbing Mole. Can I show it to you? It might be a symptom of an autoimmune disorder that no one knows anything about.)

Pancreas (Say that out loud and wonder: Does your lower back hurt because you have an undiagnosed spinal tumor?)

Progress in Osteoporosis (Do you dare even hold it in your fragile and crumbling bird-bone hands?)

Journal of Controlled Release (This is also my handgrip watching 3D IMAX movies of supposedly calming woodland scenes and creatures that can mean only one thing: Lyme disease and rabies and that disease makes you foam at the mouth and be scared of water.)

Neglected Tropical Diseases (Remind me, where were you going for Spring Break?)

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I like the feelings wheel not because I am a featherweight New Ager who has a not really ironic earthenware Buddha by the kitchen sink and believes in the potential for yetzer hatov, in Yiddish, the inclination to do good -- but because it's a reminder for my parenting.

A rainbow to meet the definition of rainbow, must have all its colors.

So often I stuff into my spleen angry, sad, and scared and hold up like a carnival mask a Big Yellow 70s Happy Face.

But that's a terrible example to my kids, for whom I want yes, unstuffed spleens, and  that ineffable blow a conch shell Vedic wholeness of being comfortable across lines, and in gray areas, and at pointy edges where choices are made, because, darlins', what else is real?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Take My Hand Take My Whole Life Too

It's Elvis' birthday and David Bowie's, and Stephen Hawking's. That is, in my opinion, a hat trick of the evidence for the potential awesomeness of humanity.

What do these brothers have to teach us?

Elvis said, "Blue suede shoes."

Bowie said, "Turn and face the strange."

Stephen Hawking said, "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."

My interpretation: if you want to be happy, retrain your gaze away from your navel, embrace the interesting edges of things, and wear whatever footwear feels right to ya.