Tuesday, December 31, 2013

His Holiness the Dalai Lama taking part in the opening prayers on the sixth day of his teachings in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India


Forget any angry words I wrote before on this blog.

Even unanswered love is better than hollow numbness.

I live, I feel, I am a wave in an endless ocean and so are you.

Be happy in this new year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nativity


When I was a kid, I dreamt that one day I'll be the deranged, homeless-looking guy standing by the nativity scene.

Who says dreams don't come true?

House of Cards

Watching House of Cards, Kevin Spacey character just gave a detailed explanation on how to commit suicide with a razor (cut along the lines not across, take an aspirin) to a weeping Congressman in a bathtub.

Ha ha.

God's dark sense of humor is the best evidence for his existence.

Hell, if I go out this way, I am sure to take my directions from a critically acclaimed show. They don't tell you how to cut your wrists right on Two and a Half Men.

One problem though.

Its not HBO.

If it was... I would have to consider it.

As is,  it is almost 4 am here in Ohio, I am out to take a shower.

Something tells me I'll make it back alive.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Threads of Love

The common response Westerners have to hearing the Buddhist tenant that attachment is at the heart of all suffering is, "what about love?"

This to me is the weakest and most ridiculous of all objections that could be raised here.

Right, love.

I don't like Shakespeare, but do you remember the plot of that one play he did.

Murder, suicide, bruised thighs of battered wives. No that's not love.

Yeah, go fuck yourself. It is.

It all springs from the quintessence of love. Not being able to live without someone.

I never really suffered as much on account on anything else.

Depression is bad, but it has a numb quality to it. Depression is like a calm ocean of gasoline that puts you under and love is a like a spark that makes it into a burning inferno of pain.

Depression makes you lose interest in life, unanswered love makes you want to pull the plug on the whole edifice.

I could wish depression on my enemy but I wouldn't be so cruel as to add unrequited love to that brew.

Love gives you a thread of hope, a hope of connecting. Its like flickering fluorescent light at a train station.

You can't rest, you can't stay calm, you have to watch the flickering, hoping for a break. Light is better but ever darkness has consistency.

If I were asked if I could terminate my depression, I would pause, it would mean destroying a part of my self. Throwing my DNA into a spin. What remains? Only a few percentiles of difference separates a man from a common ape and maybe depression is part of that equation.

But the love I know...

***

"You're in love with someone who only likes you sometimes, Ivan."

I repeat that to myself like a Tibetan mantra.

I have to will myself out of this. Rationality is a feeble weapon here. Like fighting an African lion with a scalpel. But its all I have.

Maybe if I was different she could be with me or talk to me consistently.

But I am who I am. I can't change. Can't always text about weather and food.

I am Russian. We don't talk about small things.

You know who I am,
You've stared at the sun,
Well I am the one who loves
Changing from nothing to one.

~ Leonard Cohen

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting an elderly Tibetan


Teachings at Sera Monastery, Bylakuppe, India - December 26-27, 2013. Source: http://www.dalailama.com

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ayn Rand: the Russian Girl


I'm reading a book about Ayn Rand. Born  Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum in the turbulent Russian motherland which she grew to disdain.

She came to America, birthed the libertarian creed and became an inspiration to countless douche bag college boys who are currently in charge of the House of Representative (and parts of the Senate), seemingly unaware that her atheist, individualist philosophy flies in the face of even the most Protestant interpretations of the "Judeo-Christian" tradition they see as the moral bedrock of this country.

Ah, and why not? It feels so good to be egotistical and Christian all at the same time. Am I right Paul Ryan? Or am I right?

Throughout her life -and especially in her early days of fame- Rand did her best to erase her Russian-Jewish background. But it does shine through her biography.

Much like this Russian expat, she hated small talk and preferred to have deep discussions.

But beyond modes of communications. Its clear that her maximalism, uncompromising nature and her preference for expressing her philosophy through fiction are quintessentially Russian.

But all of this above is really bullshit. What really surprised me about Ayn Rand didn't come through reading about her life but through videos of her interviews I found online.

I expected a rigid, cold ideological but what I found surprised me.

Ayn Rand was sexy.

Not bend-her-over and pull-the-hair-back sexy but still... I can definitely understand young men hanging around her.

A dumb man, if he has a certain ruggedness to him, can still inspire attraction in the opposite sex in his old age. Que John Wayne or that Scottish guy who played James Bond.

Not so much for a woman.

It is still a man's world in many ways (though I don't grasp much of it in my personal life).

XY chromosomes give you the license to be a sexy, old moron.

For a woman, once youth is melted by the acid of time, only a liveliness borne of intelligence can create a similar effect.

So let me bow my head to Ayn Rand's intrinsic, ageless sexiness and flirtatious nature.

A woman who's life and character I find infinitely more compelling that her ideas.

Alas, that last sentence sounded sexist. But what can I do?

Nobody is reading this anyway; and I'll have eons to delete this before I run for governor.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What Impedes Happiness?


Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche is one of the best Buddhist communicators I have ever encountered. Her ease and sense of humor are amazing, especially considering that English is her second (third?) language.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Feast


Single life holiday dinner. Marie Callender's chicken teriyaki. Didn't look too promising but tasted alright. I don't think it has what it takes to become a staple of my diet. Kahiki microwavable chicken fried rice, forget about it.

Encounter of the Small Kind


Today, as I was walking into a thrift store, I was surprised to see a child holding the door for me. Upon closer inspection I realize that the individual holding the door was a little person (the non-pc term is midget). This encounter led me to a pointless realization that children never hold doors for you. As I was leaving the store, I saw him smoking a cigarette outside, I was ready with my standard solidarity nod but our eyes never met.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Salty Mass


I bought $1.30 hash browns from Marc's. Now I discover that the animals didn't even salt them for me. I have searched my apartment to discover that this cave with it's crack-house ambiance doesn't hold any salt. How ironic. If I could only turn the salt of my personal life into a physical substance on this day of our Lord. A Christmas miracle.

Anyway, as a Buddhist I must have compassion for all sentient beings.

Peace and love. Peace and love.

The Under-Man



Email conversation with a friend.

You read Nietzsche a lot, right? Kind of want to know your opinion on him overall and what you think his central point was.

Just read The Antichrist because I thought I agreed with the concept, and still do, but the book itself was pretty disappointing / dated / ranting. 

My reply: 

I read him a while back so I don't remember much.

What I like about him is that he is easy to read. His writings have literary quality unlike most of western philosophy that's obtuse and vague where someone just follows their own train of thought without a concern whether other people can understand it. Then it gets so complicated that when other people develop arguments against these ideas their originator can always go for the cheap trick of "you didn't even get it in the first place" but its so densely written that there is little precise that you can get, its really slippery and too few actual arguments in the sea of conceptual garbage. 

I just think that effort to reward ration in western philosophy is disappointing. Most of their truly original ideas could be summarized in 10 pages or less but you have to read hundreds of pages to get to it. 

With Nietzsche, it may be vague but at least its easy to read like Plato. 

I think his central idea was that if one is constrained by conventional morality you are always a slave and your thinking is clouded. He didn't advocate a life of a serial killer or someone else who violates normal morals as a lifestyle, it just that conceptually you have to live beyond them. 

He was against pity, thought that Christianity led to the decay of human freedom. He disliked nationalism because it led to the same herd mentality. The herd is always led and confined by some ideas or right and wrong and it binds the herd together and entraps individual freedom. The idea is not that the individual achieved freedom by being immoral but through dispensing with the "good and evil" mentality all together. He also thought that Christian morality was sadomasochistic because to perfect yourself you always have to suppress your animal spirit. Kind of like laboring hard to make yourself impotent and proclaiming yourself the master when you achieved this feat. 

Basically I like him for his writing style I agree with 80% of his stuff but as a Buddhist I still have a moral code. 

I am against western philosophy generally because in it you are supposed to obtain enlightenment through ideas and conceptual thinking and in Buddhism you achieve enlightenment through training your mind to experience reality in a different (true way) you can use ideas to train the mind but they are supposed to lead to a state of mind as opposed to achieving enlightenment through the right conceptual framework which is what Western philosophy does. 

So I have been really lazy regarding Western thought. 

Them are my thoughts. 

Also don't forget that Nietzsche also ended up embracing a horse on the streets of Italy and going insane (maybe syphilis) and then being used by the Nazis for the bloodiest herd expedition of all time so his philosophy didn't exactly endow him with freedom in the end. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Soviet Kin


Who is this Portland-based Buddhist hipster?

Chrese  Evans, the granddaughter of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin, naturally.

God, I miss the west coast!

Link: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/11/portland_granddaughter_of_jose.html

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pussy Riot; Pussy Amnesty


Since the girls from Pussy Riot recently regained their freedom under Putin's I'm-a-good-cop-now amnesty bill, I decided to share an old opinion piece I wrote about them for a facebook friend (it received two likes).

***

I will say that giving them 2 years in the slammer as the Russian court has done is obscene and ridiculous. But I basically dislike Pussy Riot.

They wrote a nice, cerebral essay where they tie in the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin. Something a Slavic studies freshman at Berkeley might have written.

But to me it has limited relationship to reality. The Russian Orthodox Church is basically sustained by Russian grandmas, old babushkas who come to a pray and cry there because their husband died and their son is an unemployed alcoholic who leeches off of their meager government pension (which Putin has upped a few times).

These babushkas come to this huge church in the center of Moscow to get away from it all to get their little opiate (to us a Marxist cliche) into their grey lives. And so they are standing there and suddenly these 20-something girls burst in there and turn the church into a Urban Apparel catalog snapshot, with their loud music and fashionable denunciation of Putin.

And now they are supported by Madonna and Kevin Fetherline and whoever else, because they got a ridiculous sentence for a goofy stunt.

But in everyday Russian reality (as I see it and I'm not the most credible since I haven't been in Russia since 2006) not that many people support Putin because he has photo ops with the Patriarch, the reason they support him is because they are afraid of the unknown.

The two previous leaders they had was and incompetent idealist (Gorbachev) and an incompetent drunk (Yeltsin) so with that history they are content to be ruled by a competent former KGB colonel Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

And so these babushkas who support him because he raised their meager pensions are not going to join the opposition because a post-modern Punk Band staged a small concert at the cathedral, in fact they will turn in the opposite direction.

Plus, on a personal level I don't like the whole Pussy Riot aesthetic, its really catchy, too much like a Converse commercial. Maybe when its all thru they can get a job at a marketing firm.

Blah, sorry for being cynical, Kalan. Happy to hear from you

Friday, December 20, 2013

Faith Restored


A few months ago I had the need to change my car battery.

This triggered a slight to my masculinity when I found myself standing at the Advances Autoparts parking lot puffing on my electronic cigarette as a woman old enough to be my grandma in an apron was changing the battery on my 1999 Acura.

"I'm not really good at this," she said with a twinkle.

"Ha ha, much better that I am, I'm sure," I replied.

When it comes to mechanical undertakings, I have a room temperature IQ.

Were I to attempt this feat on my own, I'd probably ended up killing myself with the electric current (pluses and minuses to that outcome; pluses and minuses).

After a while of driving around, the grandmas handiwork began to give in and my car stopped starting. I found myself deprived of driving around like a lunatic while listening to gansta rap and making strange gestures worthy of a High School drug dealer... one of the the few truly healing activities in my life.

Today I took my vehicle to a mechanic where my alternator was changed (Bp Fishinger & Mountview) because I thought maybe that was the issue.

Long story short, my car was fixed and they didn't change me anything.

I was truly amazed by this. I mean nothing significant needed to be fixed.

But still, when I am at a car shop I am about as vulnerable to exploration as a eight year old sleeping over at Michael Jackson's ranch.

When the mechanic with the lazy eye gave me the key and informed me that I owed him nothing my faith in humanity was temporarily restored.

Not charging me was the morally right thing to do but that is not my expectation of my fellow man.

Ahh, if I could only bottle that feeling.

But alas, a girl I knew for five years is ignoring my emails once again and I feel my glass of life-affirmation draining back to its half-empty norm.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

When the Godfather Jumped the Shark



What a goofy film Godfather part III is!

I don't mind Sofia Coppola's high-school-play quality acting. At least she is nice to look at and she did repent her cinematic sins by making great films as a director.

But a mafia hit with a helicopter? We went from "Leave the gun, take the canoli," to doors being locked with handcuffs and mafia bosses being gunned down in some scene that would be too ridiculous in a Batman movie.

Its like Coppola was confused into believing that he was making a straight to VHS Scarface sequel.

I need to get more cheap hobo wine from Giant Eagle just to finish watching this strange movie before my rental expires and I waste $2.99.

WHY FRANCIS!? WHY!?

Gone with the Wind


President Vladimir Putin is to pardon one of his best known opponents, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, after a decade in jail in what may be a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics.

Putin made the surprise announcement that he would soon free Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, after a marathon news conference on Thursday in which he exuded confidence that he has reasserted his authority in the face of street protests.

Source: Reuters
***

God works in mysterious ways. So does Vladimir Putin.

Mikhail  Khodorkovsky became a martyr for external and internal critics of the regime.

He was an 1990's oil tycoon, westernized his company, stood up to Putin and got locked up for tax evasion as his company was taken over by the state. Yesterday's billionaire making shoes for the Russian military in a prison workshop in Siberia.

Now it looks like his freedom is in sight.

I was always cool toward this guy. I respected his chutzpah in challenging Putin especially when an option of fleeing abroad was open to him.

Then again, the way business was done in Russia in the 90's, if the law was applied equally, the outcome wouldn't be a free Khodorkovsky but rather this "human rights" icon being joined in prison by all other major "businessman" of the era.

For many Russian liberals, once someone picked up the pro-Western Democratic creed, all his past sins were absolved.

Not so for this immigrant. But I am happy to see him in reach of freedom.

Without the martyr's mantle, Khodorkovsky will be a dry, cerebral businessman with melancholy eyes.

Someone who pissed against the cold wind of Russian politics and remained alive to tell his tale.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Keaton Slap


Watching Godfather Part II. Such a great movie. Although seeing Diane Keaton slapped is against my religion as a Buddhist.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

HHDL in Japan


His Holiness the Dalai Lama leaving the stage at Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall with a Korean monk after his talk in Tokyo, Japan on November 25, 2013. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

Source: http://www.dalailama.com/

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dream Wisdom


I had a peculiar dream. All of its details escape me but I do remember that I had to submit a DNA sample in it and in order to do this I had to spit into a cup.

Alas, this action was not confined to the dream world and I physically spit on the wall bordering my bed.

This is the first time something like this has happened to me and -not being a fan of washing my sheets- I wish this to never happen again.

Also a first was a presence of the former president George W. Bush in my dream. I don't remember what role he played in this but I do recall that he was wearing Walmart jeans and laughing with evident self-satisfaction while sitting behind a table.

As a liberal I am programmed to blame all of the world's problems on his eight years in the White House therefore -without any incriminating evidence- I will blame him for the spitting episode too.

Thus Bush is not just a failure as a America's chief executive but also a total disaster as a dream spirit.

All I need now is a dream catcher with the Planned Parenthood logo to keep my dream life in the liberal sphere.

Just came up with a great indie band name...


"The Trolling Stones"