a zen buddhist monk's blog about things almost zen and telling it the way it is - zen or not (yet)

December 29, 2009

raging against the machine

It's not about WHAT you say, it's about the way you say it.

Recently, one Saturday afternoon, my wife and I found ourselves surrounded by anti-globalization demonstrators who were throwing stones and setting cars alight! True, on my mother's head! Now, we understand what they're upset about but we're not too keen on the way they're voicing it and neither were the hardworking shopkeepers who had their windows smashed!

Can we just take a moment and think this one through?

There are not enough jobs.
The big companies own everything.
We don't get paid enough.
There's not enough food for the poor.
There are too many poor.
I don't have a villa in France and a BMW.
The big 8 (or is it 20 now?) must stop buying up and controlling everything.
We want to eat strawberries in December.

Wait! Back up. What was that last one? Strawberries in December! What's that got to do with globalization and the price of fish?

Well! I'll tell you.

If we're all so keen on having our favourite fruits when we want them, or buy flowers for our girlfriends/mothers/lovers anytime of the year, or that gen-u-ine baseball cap we wear to cover our faces when out torching the 4x4's; well, someone has to produce them! And, because there are so many of us wanting these anachronistic, non-indigenous items; that same someone has to produce loads of them.

Do you see were I'm going with this yet? (Probably NOT, if your too busy out there ruining the livelyhoods of inocent small-business owners whose stores just happen to be on the route of your latest rage against the machine - or if words of more than two syllables are challenging for you)!

So next time, as your packing your homemade incendiaries in your imported rucksack and tying the shoelaces of your branded sports-shoe made by children in Asia (assuming you can perform these motor-skills by yourself) take a second to reflect on the fact that if we lived with the seasons and with the healthier local produce of our hard-working under-subsidized farmers, there wouldn't be any globalizing fat cats for us to throw rocks at!

Eat local - buy local - don't be loco!

晴 雲 法 声 seiun hosei

December 27, 2009

Wabi Sabi baby

Commercialism for commercialism, Buddhism for Buddhism, I'd rather be in Japan.

Wherever I've been to study Buddhism, so far at least, there has always been some kind of commercial venture connected to the supposedly spiritual experience. I'm not criticising you understand, it's just an observation. Of course it's normal than when people travel a long way to study with one master or another, they would like to take home some souvenir of the event. It's very similar to rock concerts; you pay to see the band and then you buy all the anciliary crap being sold outside the venue to take home and never wear or listen to again. That's just how we are; buoyed up by the warm afterglow of a rocking hard concert and with the last song still ringing in our ears, (in some cases like mine this can go on and on for years and leave the eardrums permanently damaged and ringing) we trot off to the zen boutique, or the Rigpa store to buy our dingly danglies in a vain attemp to perpetuate the feeling. But alas, when we get home, these things are placed lovingly next to Buddha or draped around the neck of Kanon, until eventually, they meld in with all the other "stuff".

So, if I'm going to do this, and I know I am, I'd rather it be stuff from Japan for its esthetic beauty and its draconian simplicity.

Wabi Sabi baby!

晴 雲 法 声 seiun hosei

Travelling & discovering

Travelling is such sweet pain!

Here we are in Geneva airport waiting to fly to Germany for a week's retreat with Sogyal Rinpoche. We've just paid CHF28.00 for 2 sandwiches, 2 coffees, and 2 bottles of water! Here's what the only free table to sit at looked like when we arrived...

...and here's how "clean" it was...

"That's right folks, don't touch that dial." This is Switzerland! Land of precision watches (and trains), chocolate, banking, ski slopes, and ordered tidyness - mmmmmh, not in this airport!

Whilst we wait for the delayed flight from Frankfurt, we thought we'd read the Sunday paper to pass the time - 2 newsagents later we still don't have one because they've sold out! I'm talking about the only French speaking newspaper published on a Sunday (today) in the French speaking part of Switzerland (where Geneva is situated just in case you're not sure) and you can't get one!

We are surrounded by people, most of whom are British, and most of whom are wearing big fur aprés-ski boots. I know I said the service here is increasingly poor but as yet it still doesn't snow INSIDE the building!

I blogged at about this date last year as my wife and I travelled to Nice and how nervous everyone was then. Well, it hasn't gotten any better. In fact what has gotten worse is everything "around" the travelling experience. The airport has been recently "improved" - actually what that means is that they have somehow squeezed an extra row of shops into the main concourse so that now you have even more opprtunity to buy seriously overpriced rubbish you'll never use again whilst being stuck behind an overweight mother and her three screaming and unruly children because the corridors are now reduced to the width of an anorexic cat-walk model.

Travelling is such sweet pain and whilst the illuminated amongst us know that the journey IS as important as the destination, they probably haven't flown Air France or tried to buy a Sunday newspaper in Geneva.

- seiun hosei joza

December 26, 2009

Feeding Greed - a major pastime

So this is Christmas!

I haven't been on for a while and now, in the late evening of Christmas day, I have a strange feeling of forebodance which urges me to write. A feeling born, I'm certain, out of nothing in particular but more from something general and omni-present.

2009 has been a very tough year for many of us and the troubles are not over yet. Our world is in a seriously sick state despite the wonderful things being achieved by some world leaders for care in this time of ill health. Unfortunately, greed is not only ever-present but growing stronger every day as per its nature and, here in the west at any rate, we are fueling its needs like never before!

I'm not going to bang on about the commercialism of Christmas and how its real meaning has been forgotten because that's a very prickly thorn and grasping it without adequate protection could be very painful indeed. Suffice it to say that it was always designed to get the masses doing the bidding of it's "inventors", so, actually, it is fulfilling its raison-d'être very nicely thank you!

Here we are, in spite of the dramatic financial climate and spiritual drought, out there buying things we don't need with money we don't have for people who don't want them, and all of this without as much as an umbrella. There are already a plethora of bleeding hearts out there whinging about social rights and freeing recidevists to carry out their destiny of ruining those of others. I won't enumerate nor name them here and, if you don't know what I'm talking about, it doesn't really matter. What does, is that we are buying ourselves into oblivion and casually drinking coffee with friends as we do it; numb to the fact that it is actually ourselves we are consuming. Our bodies, our minds, our environement and our entire planet are being fed to the greed-machine that is the western psyche of today. Where is the great dietician, the personal trainer, who can get us to consume less and slim down before we either eat our planet into extinction or get so fat we knock it off its axis? Where is the Florence Nightingale who can nurse us back to health before it's too late? But then wait, I'm forgetting in my naïveté that greed doesn't think it needs healing; it feels fine gorging incessantly thank you very much! The more we eat, the more we're hungry and, this is the sad part, the more we will do anyhing and eat anything to satisfy this desire.

Greed lives, greed grows, greed conquers all, greed rules! Take a look at yourself; are you greedy? Could you do with losing a few pounds, eat a bit less, buy a bit less, waste a bit less?

More, more, waste, waste, buy, buy, bye, bye.

- seiun hosei joza _/|\_