Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last weeks show: Happe Talk

Here is the archived version of last weeks show. Please check in tonight at 6pm pacific:
Happe Talk

Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV

Saturday, July 12, 2008

see my new online tv show Happe talk.

This show airs Tuesday at 6pm pacific time. It is a participation show and I will entertain your questions.

Web TV provided by Ustream

if you would like to donate go to Happe Talk

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Authenticity in our spiritual practice

I watched a clip this morning of the Dalai Lama's reaction to the horrific events in Tibet/China where an essential genocide is occurring at worst and the killing of a culture at best. His message was very animated, he showed his frustration and upset over the violence between the Chinese and Tibetans. He reiterated that if the violence continues, he will resign once and for all as the political leader of Tibet and will continue only as the spiritual leader of Tibet. These are very sad times.

What impressed me about the Dalai Lama's comments was his passion. He did not report his message in a dispassionate way, as Barack Obama did brilliantly yesterday morning in his discussion on race. The Dalai Lama was hot under the robes. He looked near tears and close to outrage.

It was an eventful morning. I also had a discussion with my husband about meta messaging and how we communicate and hear things based on our own internal state. I had told him a few days ago that something he communicated was judgmental and hurtful to me. I told him that even though I love him I felt like I did not like him very much at that moment. This morning he was adamant that I had told him that I hated him during that conversation. I kept my cool while he told me that I was in denial and blocking my own memory of the communication with him. As we processed together, he remembered clearly.....and he apologized for his error in "hearing". He acknowledged that I had said that I loved him but did not like him much at that moment in our conversation.

When we are in an emotional state of turmoil on any level, both our receiving as well as our delivery of our message can be very distorted. We will say things that we don't mean in anger and we will hear things that aren't said. This is pretty amazing in terms of how the mind is the cause of delusion.

I am an American Buddhist. My Buddhism is informed by my American culture. Tibetan Buddhism is informed by their culture so their practice and expression of their Buddhism is different than my Western expression. In the West we are steeped in Christian concepts. This makes it very difficult to understand Karma in the way that Eastern cultures do. When I attempt to teach the concept to my clients, they often feel that Karma is some kind of punishment that is coming from without onto them. I struggle myself to take the punishment concept off of my own understanding of Karma. I remind myself of simple cause and effect. That when we spew negativity or non virtuous behavior out from ourselves, we will eventually receive the same energetic effect. When clients are baffled by how tough their lives are and they look at the arc or their life and cannot find a source for their "bad fortune" they feel that life is unfair and they become jaded. "What's the use!" is a common reaction. When we understand that pain in this life can be a ripening of pain caused in another, our suffering becomes a bit easier to swallow.

Another tendency I see in American Buddhists as well as other committed religious people, is to cover up negativity for the sake of being forgiving and compassionate. Rather than processing the pain or negativity and transforming it into compassion for self and others, the middle step (processing) is skipped and we attempt to go directly to compassion. This as far as I am concerned is play acting. We pretend that we are compassionate by being "nice" but all the pain and negativity goes right into a gunny sack that we carry around with us wherever we go. It is the gunny sack that informs our messaging and creates the meta message which I call passive aggressive behavior. Remember that passive aggressive behavior is like the dog that jumps up on our shoulders and licks our face while urinating on our feet.

The challenge for the Western Buddhist or the practicing Christian or Jew or Muslim is to commit to the middle step. We must be willing to acknowledge our painful or icky emotion, embrace it, and then with our higher thinking, transform it through understanding into compassion. If we don't we will leave a trail of wounded family members and friends who were the recipients of our buried and convoluted wrath.

The Dalai Lama was very skilled in his expression this morning. He allowed his passion to show without needing to pretend that he is better than or higher than being upset. Barack Obama must have done his work to transform his outrage over the sound bites that he had to watch over and over presented by the media of his imperfect Pastor, who he loves as a family member, being taken out of context and smeared day after day. He transformed his pain and outrage to an understanding of both whites and blacks, and all humans who experience unfairness. He rose above the fray to reach out to all people who have experienced pain and who have perpetrated pain on others. He honestly acknowledged his own imperfection. He was able to bring us all together......It was brilliant.

The Dalai Lama is a very enlightened being who is skilled in his communication and kind deep into his heart. Barack Obama is wise in a way that many deeply spiritual beings have exemplified by their lives....perhaps he is a Bhodisattva just like the Dalai Lama.

It is essential for clarity that we devote ourselves to the middle step of processing our negativity. Both of these men are attempting to teach us to go deep into our hearts, to face our own pain and ugliness, and to learn from this...and then once we learn from this we can begin to teach it to others.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Victim Mentality

This entry comes from my interest in the political primary and my obsessive media junkie nature. I listen to Air America, as well as C-Span and Democracy Now, oh and Kieth Olbermann too. Well, as I think about it the list goes on and on, hence "junkie".

I am very interested in the tone that the primary has taken in the last few weeks. Hillary and Barack are sparring much more, which is to be expected in the rundown to picking the presumptive candidate. What is more interesting to me is the tone that has emerged from supporters I listen to making calls, particularly on Sam Seders show. Sam and Marc Maron are calling these supporters Clintonista's. People will call in with vigilante zeal, trying to defame Barack by talking about his Muslim roots, or his involvement with less than ethical donors. They seem to be incapable of conversation, speaking over the host and not answering the hosts questions. It sound as if they are robots who have been turned on who have to get the message out. They accuse the host, Sam in this instance, of trashing Hillary, when I know that that has not happened (I am a junkie , remember and I listen every day he is on air). It seems they need to be right at any cost.

So this got me to thinking and it took me back to the time when I used to lead groups of men who had been arrested for domestic violence. My sense of them was that for the most part, they were unskilled in relationship and took the lazy mans approach and pushed and shoved rather than reasoned with their partner. Of course there were some men who came into the group that literally made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. These men were truly dangerous sociopaths who really did not belong in group, they belonged in jail.

As part of my training I attended seminars which focused on "the victim". The seminars were lead by women who very much reminded me of the "Clintonistas" I listen to on Air America. These women were scary. They had taken on a vigilante zeal with regard to the abuser. In fact, as I listened, I started to feel at least oppressed and at times abused. When I challenged one women with a question she responded with attack and character assasination. This did not feel so good to me. I did not like this woman and I did not feel that she was good for the woman's rights movement she was a part of.

Here is how I explain this to myself. It requires understanding the dynamic as a paradigm. The paradigm is "Victim/Perpetrator". In this paradigm you can only be one or the other. A woman is victimized and in order for her to take charge in her life within the paradigm she must then take on the role of the perpetrator. This is a false kind of empowerment which only perpetuates the problem. Both roles in the paradigm lack autonomy and compassion. Both lack true "power". The power in the paradigm is power over, rather than power to be.

Back to the political scene. Now that Clinton is the underdog in the race, some supporters feel that it is their mission to save her and make her the top dog in any way possible. This really is like a fight where spit and feathers fly. Attacks can be unfair and specious. It does not matter because now Barack has become the bad guy who has power over Hillary and that is just wrong. This is a very authoritarian paradigm as you might well imagine.

Now a little bit about Buddhism and the above drama. My reaction to the "spit and feathers" is sorrow. If I was inside the paradigm, my reaction would be anger and outrage. But I choose not to be inside that paradigm. I choose compassion over power over. The only way one can become enlightened is to change the paradigm of victim/perpetrator. We must always consider the 10 Virtues as we communicate. If we are not virtuous in our communication, then we generate bad karma which will have a consequence to us in the very long run of life after life. All beings deserve to be treated with respect and kindness even when they are inside the victim/perpetrator paradigm. We do not enable them to offend, but most importantly we do not offend in kind. We practice loving kindness in a skilled way. I actually see Barack doing this in response to Hillary's attacks. He seems to hold himself above the fray. He defends his positions with dignity when he disagrees. He does not waver in his positions and when he is in agreement, he is very concilliatory, which some perceive as weakness. I see Barack as being strong like Ghandi was strong or like Martin Luther King was strong.

Could it be that those who perceive weakness are inside the victim/perpetrator paradigm?

A wonderful example of strength, skill and compassion comes from the Dalai Lama. When asked how a well publicized meeting with George W. Bush went, the Dalai Lama's reply was, "he had wonderful cookies"...........

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A question from a myspace friend.....

"I've been under a slight conflict within myself about how much we have not only the right, but the obligation to KNOW what we want in our lives, and ask for it, regardless of all the people we may upset. I seem to constantly work my life around what other people want, and what works for them, and what they believe. I don't seem to do things i want, or that i love because i feel selfish a lot of the time. I'm feeling a little stuck in a big decision i've gotta make pretty soon, and im struggling between choosing an experience i want in my life, and choosing the "right" path, according to my dad. I feel if i go ahead and finally make a stand, in a sense, and do what i want, even if it may seem impractical, or immature for someone at my particular point in time, that i will anger my dad very much, and he will be so upset with me that he will either try to stop me, or just stop speaking to me altogether. Ive never been close to my dad, and actually wanted to distance myself from him because he's a very negative energy in my life, and many others, so as harsh as it may sound, it wouldnt be too big a consequence, but i was wondering whether you would do a blog on this predicament every person comes across in their life. Those times where you are at a crossroads, and almost always it is a choice of, "should i do what i really want, or should i do what this person wants me to do?". We so often surrender the things we truly want in our lives, for which we are entitled to, but dont believe it, because of what other people want."

My response.....

This is a good question and it requires some definitions. First, how do you define selfish. A simple test for selfishness is to look at motivation. Will your decision harm others or self. Is this decision based on your own as well as others highest good. Is the other person being considerate of your well being or just trying to be in control. It is interesting that you say you have never been close to your dad but are threatened by him not speaking with you.

I work with so many clients who made life decisions based on their parents wishes rather than their own. They end up with empty lives and with resentment toward themselves and their parents for not following their path regardless of how impractical it is. What if all the actors and artists of the world abandoned their talent because those two endeavors are impractical in our culture. Life would be a little grayer if this was the case. We would have more of a stepford world than the interesting, messy, tumultuous world that we have.

Safety and practicality are not always the highest ideal to follow. What if Mother Theresa or Gandhi had opted for practicality. We all need to decide what is most important for us. I have always been motivated by security and I have been very fortunate to forge out a life which has provided for that security and I have a modicum of "my way". I work out of my home, I am self employed, and I get paid very well per hour. This enables me to work part time since I don't have a huge need to be "rich".

The essence of the issue here is that it is important to know yourself. And then to honor yourself. Remember that failure in any endeavor can cause suffering, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Failure, if utilized properly can guide us to further success. It also helps to purify karma. It is important not to be attached to success...this can lead to procrastination or even paralysis.

You indicate that your patten is to work around others in your life to please them. This is classic codependency and it indicates that you might have an "external locus of control". In psychological terms this is not healthy. A good metaphor for external locus of control is someone who gets a flat tire and calls suicide prevention rather than the tow truck. Your case is of course much more subtle but who are you if you define yourself by others approval. If you succeed at that then you are not even in your own body. You will be amazed that when you do what is in your heart, others will love and admire your for it. Those who depend on you to please them will either drift away or reduce their own dependency on you. You will begin to find yourself amongst other kind, independent, creative people. People pleasing actually harms others by fostering the illusion that they are in some kind of control. Control is a poison. It is a creation of the ego and it is delusion.

So be kind, compassionate, bold, brave and courageous in your quest. Remember to be guided by ethics...then how can you go wrong....Hope this helps....

my grandbaby Iris