Monthly Archives: April 2014

Miserable Moments

Although happiness is available in every moment, in miserable moments it is not readily available. Miserable moments are not so bad when they are momentary. When they pile up and turn into hours, days or months, they can take their toll on you. When you experience too many miserable moments they can mess with your belief system and lead to a miserable outlook. A miserable outlook can generate an endless supply of miserable moments. Even the most miserable of miserable outlooks is made up of many miserable moments. Although miserable outlooks are daunting, miserable moments are manageable.

Moments come and go. They are each filled with opportunity. Misery can blind you to the opportunity of the moment, but if you understand that even the most miserable moment contains opportunity, you can begin to transform your misery, moment by moment.

The mechanism of miserable moment transformation is mindfulness. The first step of mindfulness is recognizing the miserable moment. When you see that you are in a miserable moment then you are being mindful. When you are mindful in a moment, you are participating in the transformation of the moment. Despite a lingering miserable feeling, you are no longer a passive victim of mood, you are an active participant in a revolution.

To use mindfulness, look at the thoughts that are swirling around the miserable moment. The thoughts will tell you if you are miserable because of you or because of somebody else. They will tell you if you are miserable about the past, present or future. Following your thoughts will lead you directly to the circumstances of your misery. If misery seems to be the only reasonable response to those circumstances, then there is something wrong with your reasoning. Keep looking for that faulty, compelling reason to be miserable. When you find it, it will explode. That will feel nice.

As a mindful revolutionary, you may need to go on many such missions to uproot and destroy all of your ideas that lead to miserable moments. Each miserable moment though, can be a call to action. You are up to the task. All you need is your mind and a moment to reflect. With that, you can transform the world.


Dharma for Non-Buddhists

Every Buddhist should recognize Buddha’s four noble truths that there is suffering, there is a cause of suffering, there is a cure for suffering and there is a path to that cure. With that in mind, any Buddhist who finds themselves suffering knows that they have the ability to transcend their suffering. If a Buddhist is suffering, they can be consoled and comforted by the Dharma. If a non-Buddhist is suffering, they can also be consoled and comforted by the Dharma. It is just a bit more challenging, because ¬†words like Buddha and Dharma have no meaning. Everybody understands suffering though.

Just like the Buddhist path, the non-Buddhist path to end suffering is mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. If the present moment is full of suffering, then mindfulness is paying attention to suffering. Mindfulness is not pretending that things are other than they are, but also knowing that things are not exactly what they seem. Mindfulness uses the mind to see how things seem and how they are.

How things are is your direct experience. You can feel hot, cold, hungry, tired, sad, happy, or scared. Those are all reactions to how things seem. How things seem depends on what you believe. If you believe that suffering is just awful and needs to be avoided or endured, then suffering will be extra painful. If you believe that suffering is a passing feeling that is teaching you about the path to end suffering, then suffering becomes somewhat interesting and a little less painful. Mindfulness is staying with each of your experiences, whether they are pleasurable or not. It’s what we routinely do in the dentist’s chair.

Buddhists and non-Buddhists all learn from suffering. When you become a student of suffering and open your mind to your suffering and other people’s suffering, then you can see suffering and the end to suffering all around you. When you learn to see suffering, you learn to feel compassion. Compassion transforms suffering. Mindfulness breeds compassion. Believing in Buddha has nothing to do with it. Buddha was just good at mindfulness.


Living With Your Ego

Until your ego blinks out of existence and you float happily through life, it is helpful to learn to live with your ego. Living with your ego is the main chore of life. Sometimes it is a chore, sometimes it is a delight. How you feel about your ego goes up and down with your circumstances. How you feel about your ego has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, especially if you confuse your Self with your ego.

Your Self, unlike your ego, is oblivious to circumstance. Happy, sad, angry, scared, your Self is just fine. Your ego really wants to be happy. The other circumstances are difficult for the ego. That is why those difficult circumstances are good opportunities to connect with your Self and observe your ego in action. If you are angry and caught up in ego, you will just be mad. If you are angry and connected with your Self you will see what mad looks like. You will see the edges of angry and see how angry is all mixed up in ego. Then you can practice living with your ego and with your anger.

Unlike living with other people, you have no choice but to live with your ego. You can’t leave. All you can do is practice recognizing your ego. Watch how your ego goes up and down with daily events. Watch what make your ego happy, watch what makes it sad. Know that through it all your watchful Self is wise, loving and kind. When you become comfortable living with your ego, it will stop causing you any problems. If it blinks out of existence, you’ll still be wise, loving and kind. You won’t miss it.


Farm Log – March 31st


March came in like a lion and went out like a leprechaun. We had three soaking wet, rainy days that dropped three inches of rain on us. All of the itsy-bitsy spiders were washed down the water spouts.  Today, the sun came out and dried up some of the rain. I set off this morning to clear beaver dams. The beavers want to keep all of the water from going into the river. I have other plans.

We have two sets of pipes that let water from the marsh back into the river. One has a gate, one doesn’t. The one that has a gate was effectively blocked by the beavers. The one that doesn’t have a gate was effectively slowed down by the beavers. It was easy enough to open up the pipe with a gate. It was slow work clearing the way for some extra drainage from the other pipe.

The big field is our Venice. It is full of canals and ponds. The Canadian geese are enjoying the new estuary. WIth all the beaver, Canadian geese and cold spring, it is not much different from Canada here in New Jersey.

A good soaking like this is helpful to let us know just how high above water we are here. We are not very high. Fields that we plan to plant were high, dry and well drained. The wet field was wet, with lots of standing water. The pipe at the deep end of the field was buried in mud. Someday that pipe will help with the drainage. Today, we just marked it so we can dig it out when it is a little drier.

Today, we moved the cold crops from the greenhouse out to the hoop house.We moved the spinach, chard, lettuce, kale, and broccoli out to the hoop houses where they will be planted soon. The hoop house was doing it’s job and turning the sun’s energy into heat. The plants should enjoy their new home.

After the flats of cold crops were moved to acclimate to their new home, we prepared a couple of raised beds for the root crops, which we will plant soon. The extra space in the green house will soon be filled with more flats of seedlings. There should be a lot of vegetables this year.

With the help of the Shedaker brothers, we sharpened the blades of the brush hog to prepare it for action before all the green comes back and hides all the mowing hazards. The brush hog did it’s bit, mowing down lots of wild blackberries. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the soak got the best of the tractor. I got hung up on a an old tire under the brush in the community gardens and I spun my way into a rut. Try as I might, I could not free the tractor from its mire. March played it’s last trick on me. I’ll get the Tractor out on April fools day. Today, I walked home.

When I gave up on the tractor and walked in the narrow lane, the peepers were peeping. I startled an egret, a muskrat, and several ducks as I walked in. It was a beautiful evening. It was a fine end to a funny month.