Sunday, March 24, 2013

BIOPSY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY







In 1948 the Democratic and Republican Parties swapped places. At the Democratic convention of 1948 Johnson proposed integration be part of the Democratic platform and the deep-south, racist Democrats walked out of the convention and formed the Dixiecrat Party with the platform of segregation forever. After a failed run for president by the Dixiecrats there was a fairly rapid assimilation of the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party, once the strong party of the south, became moderate and progressive while the Republican Party, now consumed of white southern religious racist, moved to social conservatism.

There had always been a strong southern representation in the Senate and Congress, and the new Republican Party, now represented by colorful southern statesmen, moved to a more exclusive party – a party of powerful white men with a covert racist agenda.

The position of Senator or Congressman is the closest thing our Nation has to royalty, and the goal of all legislators has always been to keep their jobs. Republicans legislators found that by paying lip service to southern moral and social values they could count on this uninformed and easily led base to vote for them in elections; and by enacting legislations to benefit the powerful and wealthy and the big corporations they could guarantee financial support.

The final term of the George W. Bush presidency had become a disaster for the Republicans. Then something happened in 2008: A black man was running for President on the Democratic ticket.

The old south covert racist and religious fundamentalists were called on by Republican pundits to organize – to become incensed and angry – and to coalesce and demonstrate. This gave the opportunity for some of the most ignorant and outrageous of the Republican legislators to join the crazies and assume a leadership.

Without realizing it, the Republicans were awakening the sleeping tiger of their party. Suddenly the Tea Party inmates were no longer satisfied with legislative rhetoric aimed to placate them – now the tiger wanted a place at the table.

So here we are: a Republican party divided between two distinct factions: the establishment of old rich white men who have traditionally run the party, and an outrageous coalition made up of the ignorant and uninformed with no idea how to govern.


the Ol'Buzzard


Saturday, March 23, 2013

A BUZZARD EGG OMELET #20



STAND YOUR GROUND




Yesterday evening I was taking my wife out for supper at a unique restaurant about thirty miles north. We were traveling at the speed limit on a two lane road that still had a dusting for fresh snow. In my rear view mirror I could see a pick-up and behind the pick-up a small black car approaching fast. An oncoming car crested the hill and I was sure the small black car would slow and stay behind the pick-up, but instead he accelerated passing both the pick-up and our car while crossing a solid yellow line – just getting back to the right lane before the oncoming car closed the distance.


I have been against the Stand Your Ground laws passed in many southern and western states; but, I think I would support one in Maine if they included vehicular traffic. That way when some ass-hole endangered you on the highway you could lower your window and shoot at him.


You know, perhaps that is one way motorcycle riders could get some respect.



the Ol’Buzzard

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NIGHT MONKEYS




- the computer says this is a run on sentence, but what the hell does it know? That was a sentence fragment that I recently included in a letter (yes – an actual real letter) to the only person in my family that I give a fuck about. I have a half-brother and a half-sister and some cousins somewhere, but I haven’t heard from them in thirty years and have no desire for contact. But that is another story – the point is:

When I refer to my computer I call it an it - it has no name. The message that stuck in my id was that the computer says. This brought about one of those can’t sleep, midnight, mind wandering conundrums that the monkey mind grabs and wrestles with despite my ardent desire for my mind to shut the fuck up and go to sleep (a run on sentence?)

I begin to think about all the inanimate things that we give human deference and refer to with human qualities.

• The gas gauge says we have a quarter of a tank (the fucking gauge can’t speak.)

• The envelope says there is postage due.

• The GPS says (but it actually does) that we should turn left.

• The sign says it is a one way street.

• The cell phone says your mother is calling…

We claim that these inanimate things without a name speak to us. It is not like, ‘Jane said to turn left at the corner’ or ‘John said your mother called.’

They are inanimate – they have no name – they can’t speak.

But then the monkey did a 180 around the tree trunk and I started thinking about the things I have name in my life: inanimate things with a name.

• I use to name my cars and trucks (but for some reason never named my motorcycles.) The first car I owned (as a teen ager) was Comanche; the second car I owned was Clyde (probably having to do with a song about a camel.) After that all my cars and trucks had female names.

• In my early years I use to name my guns. After all Davy Crocker had ol’Betsy.

• I have named outboard motors (it is easier to cuss something when it has a name), fishing holes; and of course dogs, cats and birds; and I have even assisted my wife in naming teddy bears.

Don’t blame me that all of this doesn’t make sense. It is that god damn monkey that controls my mind at midnights – grabbing thoughts and running here and there – it is his fault.



I think I will name this post: NIGHT MONKEYS.



the Ol’Buzzard



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BUZZARD BARF

Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip.  During the middle of the night Holmes nudges Watson.  "Watson," he says, "Look up at the sky and tell me what you see."   

"I see millions of stars," Watson says.  

"And what do you conclude from that, Watson?"

Watson thinks for a moment and finally says, "Astronomically, it tells me there are million of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.  Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.  And meteorologically I suspect there will be a beautiful day tomorrow."

"What does it tell you Holmes?"

"Watson, you idiot!   Someone has stolen out tent."  

Cribbed from Plato and a Platypus Walked Into A Bar.  By Cathcart and Klein.

the Ol'Buzzard

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BUZZARD ZEN






In India, about four hundred years before Christ, life was hard, disease was rampant and life expectancy was short.   A young, privileged, rich man came to the realization that regardless of his station in life he was going to die like everyone else; that he would not be able to avoid the infirmities and debilitation of old age; and there was a possibility that he could suffer a disfiguring accidents or terrible disease.  

He tried to find solace in religions and failed.  He eventually fell in with a group of ascetics.   Their religious belief was that through self-denial and discipline they could reach some understanding of life and death.  The young man lived in the wilderness and suffered from exposure and starvation.   With his body emaciated and near death he managed to sit under a shade tree and determined to meditate until the end.  

The story goes that a beautiful young girl came by and saw his state.  She offered him water, and the water was cool and wonderful.   She brought him rice, and the rice was delicious and restorative.   At this moment the young man was awakened.  He realized how wonderful it was to view a beautiful girl and drink cool water and eat a bowl of rice.  

From this point the young man was known as the Buddha.  

Zen venerates wisdom above all else.   Zen tells us that we fashion ideas of how things ought to be and how we aught to live, and so we are constantly at war with our environment and ourselves.   Zen reminds us that if we do not see the beauty and mystery of our present life, our present moment then we have wasted a beautiful gift – a time of conscious living that is too soon gone and can’t be relived. 

Besides our ego, the biggest barrier to conscious living is our monkey mind.   When we try to focus on an action or a concept our mind monkeys start screaming and running and swinging through the trees.   Random thoughts arise and then recede taking us away from the moment.   How often do we lay in bed at night trying to get to sleep only to have our minds jumping from one aggravating thought to another?  

Buzzard Zen

Zazen, or meditation can still the monkeys and improve focus.   Contrary to Zen teaching, the purpose of meditation is not meditation…it is to discipline the mine and improve our concentration in order to allow us to truly experience each moment. 



To practice Zazen it may helps to read and study or be guided by a teacher – but contrary to Zen doctrine it is not a requirement.  The Buddha said to believe nothing, no matter where you read it or heard it or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason. 

It is also said that everyone has a Buddha nature, which means to me that we are capable of awakening, or understanding the values of life on our own. 

I believe that each individual is responsible for his or her own life and how it is lived.   Obsessing over the past or fantasizing about what might be in future is of little or no benefit to our peace of mind.   The best we can do is to live each day consciously and when we come to a crossroad make a decision and move on. 



Meditation helps still the discontent caused by a monkey mind.   Meditation does work: in a stressful situation (or just at home) I can lower my blood pressure at least ten points in one minute through meditation.   Meditation also calms and relaxes – I always feel stress free after meditation.   Just taking a few minutes - and sitting quietly – and emptying my mind relaxes me. 

I believe that the Buddha’s experience taught that the basic things in this life are a beautiful gift, and if we drive ourselves or obsess over what we have no control over we are squandering  precious time of our existence. 

It is raining now
On our metal roof
And it is a wonderful sound.

the Ol’Buzzard




ONCE MORE TO THE BREACH – MOREZEN






As I stated on my last ZEN post, today I will briefly describe Zen Buddhism and then I will follow with Buzzard Zen. 

The man known as the Buddha existed five hundred years before Christ.  He started a movement that split and spread through much of the Asia.   One of these schisms found root in Japan and became the practice of Zen. 

The premise of Zen is that by developing our individual power of concentration we can achieve the understanding that though life is finite we have a privilege of living in this moment, and this moment is all there is.   Or, like the beer commercial: you only go around once so grab all the gusto you can.    In the case of Zen belief - don’t be unconscious during a single moment of life.

 When you visit a Zen sangha you are told that you can reach enlightenment only through meditation and study with a qualified teacher.   If you ask what enlightenment is you are given a no-answer answer that is meant to make the practice mysterious.

 

So, you sit with a group and count your breaths until your legs go numb, then the bell rings and you stand and walk in circles to get back your circulation, and then you sit and count your breaths until your legs go numb again.  At some point the teacher gives you a Zen talk; such as ‘The purpose of meditation is meditation’ or ‘What is the gold of meditation?  It is meditation.



Zen in a nutshell:

There is much more to it than this.  If you wish to practice Zen you should know about the life and enlightenment of the Buddha.   You should understand the premise of Zen: that life is like a wheel out of balance.   Fear of death, pain and dissatisfaction are the causes of your discontent.   By understanding the underlying causes of your discontent you can address them and bring the wheel back into balance.   You can do this through meditation. 

  

I get the feeling when I visit a Zen sangha that most of people like dressing in robes.  They like the bells and incense and trappings.   They like the comradeship, and they like belonging to an exclusive club.  They like to tell their friends. “I am a Buddhist and I practice Zen. 

I am not knocking this: if it gives you solace and comfort – go for it.   I am just saying that it is not right for everybody and it is not right for me.  And, it is not necessarily the only way.   I also feel that by and large this formalization and ritual misses the intent of the Buddha’s teachings. 

the Ol’Buzzard
Buzzard Zen next

Sunday, March 10, 2013

ZEN AND THE ART OF SEX






The term ‘art of sex’ might appeal to a teenager or a frustrated celibate; but I find sex as an art is not desirable.   Any time you move something to an art form you are becoming to cerebral: it speaks of planning and orchestrating and evaluating.   To be really enjoyed, sex - like life - should be spontaneous: a spontaneous melding of mutual desires that build to an emotional climax and leave both parties exhausted and elated.  

The teachings of Zen tell us to live spontaneously.   We are told not to dwell on what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, but to accept each moment and make decisions as they arise - and then move on.

The teachings of ZEN can be an enigma.   And to understand ZEN we need to understand Buddhism.  

I propose there are four distinct disciplines of Buddhism.  Without getting mired in difficult names, histories, double talk and rituals we can look at the divisions geographically. 



Southeast Asian Buddhism is probably the most popular.   This is the Buddhism of Compassion.   It is the belief that a person can not become enlightened (at one with the world) without being involved in humanity.   Compassionate Buddhist are concerned about war and human suffering and the welfare of all living things.   Meditation is a big part of their path to enlightenment. and they believe that true Buddhism can be achieved only through being involved in a community of Buddhist – they stress the need for a teacher. 



Tibetan Buddhism is the least understandable for our western minds.   Tibetan Buddhism is ripe with gods and demons and spirits.   The more educated Tibetans now living in exile say the deities are the personification of human conditions.    That may be true today; but from the earliest time through the twentieth century Tibetan Buddhist were fearful of the actual physical existence of demons.   Tibetan Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that human life is the top of the life cycles.   A person who lives an unselfish religious life may opt out of the cycle.   People who are evil and unwholesome and unworthy are doomed to repeat the cycle in a lower animal form (take four.)   Because Tibetan Buddhists see all non-human life forms as some step of reincarnation they worry about killing the simplest living creature  – walking on bugs.   Tibetan Buddhism, like Tibetan culture, has been practically eradicated by the Chinese government. 



The third is Chinese Buddhism, which no longer really exists as a viable religion.   The Chinese government now licenses the monks and the state controls the laity to make sure that the Buddhist monasteries don’t operate contrary to the People’s Socialist Agenda.   The government has even appointed a new Dali Lama.  



Japan was the last Eastern country to adopt Buddhism, and they modified the form to what is now known as ZEN.    They distilled the teachings of the Buddha to focus on the wellbeing of the individual.   The premise of ZEN is that by disciplining the mind through meditation an individual can come to understand the causes of his or her suffering and discontent, and lead a more full and appreciative life in each day and each moment.  

Buddhism was never a religion that moved in to replace other existing religions.   Because of the simplicity of the teachings we might view Buddhism as a chameleon:  able to absorb the existing tenets and offer a non-threatening combination.  

In India Buddhist teachings melded with Hinduism; In Tibet it melded with the mystic religion Bon. In China it melded with Taoism; and when it moved to Japan it distilled the teachings to adapt to that culture. 

Each of theses divisions, stemming from the Buddha’s teaching, added and subtracted and in doing so veered away from the simple enlightenment of the Buddha.    Each claims to be the pure belief, just as the Catholic Church claims to be the true Christian religion.   And though, in my opinion, ZEN is the closest to the Buddha’s path to enlightenment, even ZEN has cloaked itself in vestments and ceremony that the Buddha never condoned. 

In my next post I will discuss the actual practice of ZEN as taught in numerous Sanghas (Zen communities) throughout the US.  

An in the final post I will describe Buzzard Zen: the back to the basics that I fall into and out of like a fat person trying to diet. 

the Ol’Buzzard
Much of what is written here will not agree with the teachings available at sangha’s and the literature at book stores.  I have read and considered myself a Buddhist since the seventies.   As I believe all established Buddhist sects today have veered away from the simple basic teachings of the Buddha – I do not blindly accept the necessity of belonging to a group or of submitting my will and intellect to a teacher.

Believe nothing, no matter were you heard it or who said it, unless it agrees with your common sense. 
(attributed to the Buddha)  

 


BUZZARD BARF



I went to bed just before midnight and slept for seven hours.  I woke up and it was eight-o-clock:   Fuck this shit. 

the Ol'Buzzard

Thursday, March 7, 2013

ZEN AND THE ART OF MASTURBATION.






This title is antithetical - contrasting direct opposites. 

ZEN tells us to live in the moment, and at first consideration you might assume that masturbation would be the apex of living in the moment, but on further deliberation we will know that masturbation is a total fantasy.  Now I can’t speak for women, but a man never look down at his hand and thinks Oh you erotic devil, I’ve been dreaming about you all night.  This is why men never masturbate with their eyes open unless they are watching porn.   They close their eyes and try to visualize a particular woman (or man as the case might be) and fantasize the feel of a particular orifice.  And then after the moment of orgasm they are back to reality with a clean-up at hand. 

All right this is really about Buddhism.  The masturbation was just to get your attention.

ZEN is only one of the disciplines of Buddhism.   Even though the Buddha declared on numerous occasions that he was not a god and the he could find no justification for a belief in life after death, most of the Buddhist sects have deified the Buddha and proclaimed a life-after death theology. 

There seems to be an inane need or genetic proclivity for men to invent a god to worship.  It is understandable that the fear and inability to deal with the certainty of death had led us to a belief in a god fantasy.  But it goes deeper than that: from the earliest times holy men/ con-men have been able to use the ‘god need’ to control and dupe the masses.  Even when the hard light of reason denies any reality of gods – people still line up and willingly follow any charismatic leader.  Against all common reasoning they will lock arms and while singing a particular anthem to their chosen deity willingly march over the abyss to blissful destruction. 

Zen does not depend on dogma that the world is eternal or finite; that there is life after death – or not life after death; or on the fundamentals of any religion.   Zen is the basic distillation of the Buddha’s teachings; and the Buddha said to believe nothing, no matter where you heard it or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense. 

Therefore ZEN only aims to develop in us the power of concentration and the ability to truly see ourselves and live fully in each moment. 



This is the first of a trilogy I will publish on sex and ZEN.

the Ol'Buzzard






Friday, March 1, 2013

I KNOW YOU ARE TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT Google Chrome...But

I just had a pop up on my computer telling me that Google Chrome had shut off my Norton Identity Requirement Setting.

What the fuck?

I had to manually reset it.
the Ol'Buzzard