I love Coca Cola. It has been my favorite drink since I don’t remember when. I guess it all started with the small little green bottles that you had to use an honest-to-goodness bottle opener to crack open. Continue reading
My second wife stopped breathing shortly after they placed her in the emergency vehicle en route to a hospital some eight years ago. The day was six-months to date of her first bout with an emergency wagon when she fell in our Conshohocken, PA, home suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
She remained in a coma for more than five days then. This time, however, they were more certain that she would not recover from her latest, unplanned date with Miss Fate. A nurse or a social worker at the Hospital suggested I contact a priest to say the last rites for Wendy. Continue reading
My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Park when I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.
At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.
Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading
I’ve opened my mind to a new way of seeing and I am free as long as I can keep my peripheral vision on anything but the object of my focus.
What I do is distract myself from looking at the car in front of me when I’m cruising on the highway. I set my gaze off in the distance where I take in the beautiful blue skies interrupted now and again by a while cloud. Continue reading
As soon as I turned 18 and got a draft card, I rushed to my printing shop at Dobbins Technical Institute (aka Dobbins High School) and commenced to committing a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
I didn’t now it was against the law, a federal law at that, but I guess I should have known you can’t change the date of birth on your Selective Service card to show you’re 21 years old rather than 18. Hey, it was the best way of getting served in every Philadelphia bar in 1966. Continue reading
I see my life through the eyes of a kid who grew up in Brewerytown, swashbuckling my way through fights on the streets and later the jungles of Vietnam before finding my true calling as a spiritual clarion who wants all North Philadelphia children to return to their God-given Nature of Love. Continue reading
I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, I Love You, Thank You!
I meditated yesterday with members of the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in Chestnut Hill and found love hidden beneath a wall of pain I build up with my first wife.
I asked her to forgive me after telling her how sorry I was for hurting her, and that I always loved her and wanted to thank her for all she did for me. Continue reading
I lost the damn wallet again.
It was the second time in about a week it turned up missing. The first time was in Korea and I never detected it’s loss. The Reverend Lee, the WON Buddhist minister leading a pilgrimage in Korea last week, had approached me with a black object in her hand. She looked worried and I couldn’t figure out what caused her distress. Continue reading
I want to stop wanting!
All my life I’ve been brainwashed into wanting something. Now I want it to stop. Do you hear me, old Wizard of the Universe? Stop . . . my . . . wanting. Stop Me!
I never wanted a cigarette as bad as I did when I got thrown into a “lockup” after getting kicked out of the courtroom by a judge whose ire I had raised by raising my own voice at him. Continue reading
Julie traveled all the way from Chicago and came to the Lotus Flower Island with a question about her life’s purpose. By the time she left the privately owned spiritual retreat, there was no doubt whatsoever that she found the answer she was looking for.
She’ll return to this rustic hideaway hidden away off the mainland of South Korea and, remain there, devoting herself to serving others from around the world who are searching for similar answers. Julie’s newfound happiness will be in helping others suffering from too much technology and not enough love. Continue reading
“I don’t know” is soon to become my life-long mantra.
It has helped me immensely in calming the “monkey mind” after a wonderful Korean woman introduced it to me and it took a full day for me to understand its profound ramifications.
For me, saying “I don’t know” is a way of humbling myself and admitting that I know very little about the world I live in and what really matters in the scheme of life. No matter how hard I try to “get it right” through searching and throwing myself into one spiritual path after another, the end result brings me no closer to any definite answer and it’s okay to let it go and simply say “I don’t know.” to the world
I don’t know how electricity works, but I know that it exists and provides for so many of our heating and transportation needs, not to mention that hair dryer that vain men (some women, perhaps) depend on for their appearance. I don’t know how God (or some other Source by a different name) created us, or how many days it took for Him to create the world, but I know that it manifested from the same substance that you and I are made of and will one day return to.
Yes, I believe in a force that is higher than myself, a divine spiritual “something” that ties us all together like the atoms that we share and the oneness we truly are. It is this small kernel of faith I have been fortunate enough to cultivate that allows me to now say with a firm conviction: “I don’t know.”
The woman that shared this phenomenal truth was a WON Buddhist minister who served as mentor for the minister of the WON Buddhist Temple of Philadelphia. She appears angelic although there are a few silver strands in her dark hair that’s pulled straight back and tied up in a professional-looking bun in the back of her head. Wearing glasses, nothing seems to separate the love that shines from her eyes for other beings like me who are lucky enough to have come into contact with her.
Like all female ministers, she wears a black gown or dress (or whatever you call the lower part of clothing covering a woman’s torso). The top is covered by a pure white blouse with a big white bow tie. At first glance, it reminded me of the outfit worn by the Catholic nuns of a by-gone era, but without the heavy starch and the tough, drill sergeant demeanor and firmness that could scare a kid with eternal damnation for speaking out of turn in second grade.
“I don’t know” is also a state of mind. It is similar to the “beginners’ mind” that Zen Buddhist monks recommend practitioners assume when studying the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama.
But “I don’t know” surpasses that in WON Buddhism, in my opinion. Once you truly admit this, you’re better able to tame the mind. To rid it of unnecessary thoughts that plagued you day and night.
Once that occurs, you can move into the next level, which is “no mind.” It is the “emptiness” that you hear talk of by holy men and women – the sages of all walks of life and forms of religion – who experience life without any judgement whatsoever. You become void and see things through the eyes of equanimity.
I have a long way to go, and I may not reach that high mountain top of a enlightenment, but I’ve learned to take the first step, thanks to those I’ve met during the 100th anniversary this week for WON Buddhism.
It’s a baby step, one I am proud of announcing to the world when I assert that “I don’t know!”
“I am the wisest man alive for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”— Socrates
“I know nothing.” — Sgt. Schultz, of Television’s Hogan’s Heroes
I’ve been to some ten different Buddhist temples in the mountainous regions of Korea taking in the rustic, centuries-old magnificent works of art and spiritual creations of man. I felt uplifted when entering doorways that millions, perhaps billions, of others walked through in search of peace and calm on their way to a potential enlightenment.
None however, have inspired more of a majestic feeling inside than the new WON Center in Seoul, Korea, where a bolt of soft and pure lightning once again struck me with what I can only describe as a divine presence that’s humbling and elevating at the same time. Continue reading
“Namuamitabul” is a Korean Buddhist chant that means “The Buddha of infinite light, infinite life, and infinite wisdom.”
This chant is recited numerous times by participants in a WON Buddhist meditation as part of a routine that involves chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. Continue reading
My all-time favorite Philadelphia Judge was James Lineberger, a no-nonsense jurist who’d scare the hell out of many a defendant I’d bring to the bar of the court, and one time caused one of my clients to pass out when he sentenced him for a heinous crime a jury found him guilty of committing.
Judge Lineberger could also be as warm and fuzzy as a teddy bear who would leave the bench at the top of the courtroom and float down to the metal bar when spotting a Korean woman. He could serenade in her native tongue while gazing out from his big lovable and loving eyes. Continue reading
“Dark Night of the Soul.”
I have no idea what Saint John of the Cross meant when writing about his spiritual struggles several centuries ago, but I feel as if I’ve been going through one all day today. Continue reading
“. . . Killing me softly with his song!”
I never thought I’d start off a meditation tale by using the word “killing,” but in this case, I believe it is somewhat appropriate. Killing the “dis – ease” is more like it.
Killing it softly, one breath at a time, that is! Continue reading