Monday, January 14, 2019


Coming out of sleep I lay in bed
The fan blowing a gentle breeze across my body
I kicked off the covers and stretched
I cleared my mind from monkey dreams
And listened to the quietness of the house

I have been to a Zen sangha – a Buddhist teaching community – and have read extensively; and one lie that is promulgated throughout, is that it is necessary to have a physical teacher in order to achieve enlightenment – to become a Buddhist. 

Buddhism, and in particularly Zen, in its most basic teachings, is not about teachers or chants (Koan), not about robes, bells, whistles, icons or timed meditation.   Buddhism is simply a path to help a person achieve contentment by appreciating every conscious waking moment; and Zen is a path to achieve that consciousness through meditation.

The Buddha found enlightenment by himself and each of us have a Buddha nature.  When we are seeking a more contented nature we can distill Buddhist writings and lectures to a basic path that fits our own individual needs.  

Christianity became a formal religion in 325 AD at the council of Nicea (Nicaea) when men decided that Jesus was a god, and what writings would compose the bible, and what the laws and teachings should be.

Likewise after the death of the Buddha, men who had been explaining the simple concept of achieving contentment through focusing on the beauty of the Now, began adding trappings and rituals and requirements that was not the intent of the Buddha.   Teachers venerate themselves, they set themselves up as somehow superior to us – again not the intent of the Buddha. 

If you are interested in alleviating stress and living a more conscious life I would suggest you read Buddhist materials – but not take them as gospel.   

Buddhism is not about beliefs and practices… it is not a religion.   It is about the teachings of awakening – about examining the world clearly.
Steve Hagen

The Ol’Buzzard

God Damn I

Many years ago, I knew an old man (probably not as old as I am now) that would swear ‘God damn I” every time he screwed up something.

I always thought that sounded strange, buy at that time in my life I wasn’t particularly concerned about anything that didn’t bring pleasure to me – or is it I…

Shakespeare’s Ophelia cried ‘Woe is me,” but can we really set our grammar on Shakespeare’s prows?   Should it have been Woe is I or Woe am I?  

Anyway, I kind of like the sound of God damn I, so that has been my go-to for years.

There are rules of grammar that make sense, but rules are meant to be broken.  To me there are three strands of language: one is to transmit information or relate a story, one is to express emotion and the other is art.   

God damn I expresses emotion, so who is to say it I am not correct?

I am Me, or am I?
the Ol’Buzzard

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Whenever we are out and I have to use a public bathroom I always notice that many men, especially young men, go into the toilet stalls to pee when there are urinals available.    This kind of pisses me off because if I have to take a dump it is likely I will find pee on the seat.

I don’t know if bathroom modesty is a societal thing or something imparted during childhood by mothers.

I have no shame, probably because of my Navy training back in the 1950’s.

The Navy head (bathroom) at boot camp was a room about thirty feet long with toilets side by side along one wall – at least a dozen toilets.  It wasn’t unusual, first thing in the morning, to take a crap with someone sitting next to you.  There was the advantage that if you needed a light for your cigarette you could probably bum one from someone down the line.      In the middle of the room was a circular fountain, probably six feet in diameter, with a circular peddle at the base for flushing, where men stood around to take a piss. 

There was no such thing as privacy in the bathroom: the shower was a big open room with shower heads.  Since that time, I have never been affected by bathroom embarrassment.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think women are as modest in a public bathroom as men are.

the Ol’Buzzard   

Friday, January 11, 2019


Buddhism is more than meditating.

Here in the west we hold ideas of how things ought to be and how we ought to live.  We are constantly at war with our environment trying to make everything fit into our desired outcome – and when we fall short, which we most often do, we carry the stress of failed expectations.

We hold a fixed idea of who we are and how we want to be perceived.   But there is no fixed I or Ego because everything changes – new causes produce new effects

“One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being.
Solzhenitsyn:  The Gulag Archipelago

The Buddha realized that most often people were carrying stress, and that this stress prevented them from appreciating the refreshing taste of cool water – the beauty of a young girl – or the satisfying taste of rice (his awakening.)    Buddha also realized that the stress is most often self-inflicted.   He addressed this in The Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths

1.     Duhkha*: Life is often like a wheel out of kilter. We are constantly dissatisfied.    We feel we have to fight for control.   We move from one crisis to the next – reacting – never satisfied with our outcome.

2.     Our dissatisfaction originates from our own expectations and desires.   We become obsessed with our problems.

3.    Problems you have will pass.   By focusing on, and being content in the present, instead of fantasizing on future or obsessing with the past, we can alleviate much of our dissatisfaction.

4.    The Eight Fold Path is the Buddha’s teaching – a suggested path toward a fulfilling and contented life.

*(Spelled Duhkha in Buddhism Plain and Simple; spelled Dukha in The Essence of Zen; spelled Dukkha in Intro to Buddha – and probably other spellings.   There are four major sects of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Zen; this probably creates confusions in spellings and definitions.  It is the concept that is important.)


1.    RIGHT VIEW:  accepting the way your world is, even though it is not necessarily the way you might like it to be.  Understanding that nothing is static and everything is changing.
2.    RIGHT INTENTION: address each action in your life with resolve; but always choosing the noble path – you instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.

3.      RIGHT SPEECH: speak the truth; but never to injure.

4.     RIGHT ACTION: consider each action with a clear mind, not from preconceptions or prejudices.
5.     RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: you should strive to choose an occupation that benefits others, and one that satisfies your needs; but you should apply ourselves in whatever endeavor you occupy.

6.    RIGHT EFFORT: live in the NOW.

7.    RIGHT MINDFULNESS: be conscious of how you are engaging with the world from moment to moment and how your actions affect others.

8.    RIGHT MEDITATION: practice zazen regularly

Notice that the Buddha does not give commandments – there is no ‘thou shall not…’   These are the Buddha’s suggestions – his clarity.
Buddhism is not a belief system.  It is not about accepting beliefs or following rituals.   It is about seeing the world clearly. 

It is said that at his death the Buddha told his followers ‘Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself.’  

the Ol’Buzzard


Tuesday, January 9th began as any other winter January day in western Maine.   We had a snow storm that morning dropping about four inches of snow.   I went out about noon to clear the driveway with my 19-year-old Craftsman snow blower.

The snow kicked up again in the afternoon and the forecast was for a mixture of rain and snow overnight, so just before nightfall I went out again and removed another three inches of snow from the drive and cleared the roof over the front door where snow tends to build up.

Shortly after dark we lost power.  This is not a big thing for us as we have a wood stove for heat and gas lamps for lighting – our cabin was originally built as a camp and so is self-sufficient.   Since we are on a well we also lose water when the power is out, but we keep a number of gallon jugs stored to allow us to flush the toilet in such an outage.

The main inconvenience is that I have to get up a number of times during the night and feed the wood stove.

It snowed all night: a worst-case scenario with temperatures at 33 degrees and a six-inch heavy wet snow that clung to trees and power lines, and is difficult to move with the snow blower.


At seven-o-clock Wednesday morning I drank a glass of Ovaltine and headed out to move snow.  It took me well over an hour, slow going, and just as I was about to finish it began raining.   One last pass with the snow blower and when I hit the berm at the mouth of the drive the snow blower began shaking and banging.   The right auger blade had snapped into at the shaft.


BUGGER ##**#% !

The power is still off at in the house, our road hasn’t been plowed, the snow blower is broken with another snow forecast for next week and I’m soaking wet.  

I take a few deep breaths and focus: Shit Happens.

Nothing I can do until the light’s come back on; which happened about 3:30 that afternoon.


I called Sears to see about a replacement for the right-hand auger for the snow blower and their price was $200 plus shipping, “I don’t want a gold one: it is just a piece of spiral steel. 

I bring up U-tube (now my go to for any maintenance) to see how to replace an auger in my Craftsman machine.  

The man on U-tube had great difficulty just dismantling the machine.  It seems like a bearing on that holds the differential for the auger drive was damaged and had worn the differential shaft, so the whole unit would need replacement; he ended his video with some expletive without finishing the repair. 

Since my machine is 19 years old it is likely I will find the same problem:  differential is $550 dollars, bearing and washer $125, two auger blades $450 – it seems that a seven hundred dollar snow blower is made up of five thousand dollars’ worth of individual parts: Thanks for the support Sears!

Fuck it!   Home Depot has a Troy Bilt snow blower for $600 with $50 dollars off if you take out a Home Depot credit card, so Monday I will have a new snowblower: 


 the Ol'Buzzard

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


I am tired of the half truths and outright lies that the Republicans are spinning to try and blame the Democratic House for this ridiculous government shutdown.

!.   The Republican Senate passed a continuation bill to keep the government open until February.

2.  Trump bragged on TV that he was going to shut down the government if he didn’t get funding for his wall, and said he would be proud to own the shutdown.

3.  The first order of business in the Democratic House was to take the Republican continuation bill, unchanged, pass it in the House and send it back to the Senate.

4.   Mitch McConnell refuses to bring this bill, that had already once passed in the Senate, up for a vote.

5.   It would take two Republican Senators to vote with the Democrats to pass the bill and open the government.

6.   It would take twelve Republican Senators to cross over and vote with the Democrats to override Trumps Veto.

This Trump tantrum government shutdown is wholly owned by Trump and now the Republican Senate.   The Senate could open the government tomorrow if they would bring the House (Republican) bill to a vote and enough Republicans were mature enough to vote with the Democratic minority.

Why aren't Legislators salaries being cut during a Government Shutdown?

Call or e'mail your Senator and House member and demand they pass a bill to deny salaries to all Congress Persons, the Presidential, President Cabinet members and Presidential staff during a government shutdown.

I don't do social media; but if you do please put this request to the people that follow  you.

the Ol'Buzzard


 There was some discussion on my blog post concerning the availability of the book BUDDHISM PLAIN AND SIMPLE by Steve  Hagen,    

Steve Hagen lectures and teaches at the Dharma Field Meditation  and Learning Center in Minneapolis.   

The book is available through the center for $10.00:


A  further link:  Dharma Books

the Ol'Buzzard