Public Defender Advocate Lives On!

Walter Mondale, the Minnesota resident and former candidate for president of the United States, was a staunch advocate for providing legal services to poor people charged with crimes and I firmly believe that his legacy will live on.

I remember Mondale through my wife who took a leave of absence from her work as a copy editor at The Inquirer Newspaper of Philadelphia to work for Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman endorsed by a political party to run for vice-president. Wendy, who passed away three years ago this month, drove in a calvacade of volunteers assisting celebreties who met and supported the congresswoman from New York. She met Mary Travers – of Peter, Paul and Mary – who asked for a side trip to eat a cheese steak at Pat’s Steaks in South Philadelphia, which Mary claimed she heard so much about!

Even though Mondale served as vice president under Jimmy Carter and ran against and lost to Ronald Reagan for president, he also served as an attorney general for the state of Minnesota. It was in 1962 that he encouraged more then 20 attorney generals throughout the country to join in an amicus brief in support of a poor man from Florida who asked for but was denied the assistance of a lawyer for his criminal trial.

Clarence Earl Gideon was found guilty when he went to trial and was sentenced to five years in jail. The pool hall owner claimed the defendant stole $5 in change along with some beer and soda and $50 from a jukebox.

While in prison he used prison stationary and a prison-approved pencil to write an appeal to the US Supreme Court. (The actual hand-written appeal is on display at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia!)

Mondale convinced 22 other attorney generals throughout the United States to join in the amicus brief in support of Gideon. Some believe it helped to sway the court which decided unanimously to grant relief to the poor Gideon, who was in his early 50s and considered to be a drifter when convicted in 1961. (He had no more then an 8th grade education who ran away from home when he was in middle schol.)

The landmark decision – in a case cited as Gideon v Wainwright – lead to the creation of the vast public defender system in the United States. I served as a criminal defense lawyer for 20 years in Philadelphia and owe the creation of my job to Gideon.

Well what happened after the court case? Gideon – such an unlikely hero – was appointed a lawyer to represent him at another trial and he was found not guilty! In 1980 Henry Fonda played the part of Gideon in a made for television movie called “Gideon’s Trumpet.”

Thank you Walter Mondale for your support of the underdog and your compassion for the poor in our society.

Champion for the poor and underpriveleged

Let’s boycott Georgia firms to save the vote

Should I boycott Coca Cola?

How about refusing to fly on Delta Airlines?

Coke and Delta have been some of my favorite product choices my entire life. I can swear by the rich and delicious taste of Coke over its rival Pepsi. I always felt comfortable and reassured when flying while hooked up with Delta airlines, a pleasure I first experienced when first stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. for OCS, and later for the US Army’s jump school.

They’re both headquartered in the state of Georgia. The state where the legislature, the senate and the governor rammed through in one day the most severe curtailment of voting rights in my adult lifetime.They claim it’s to insure voter integrity – to prevent voter fraud – but we all know that the 2020 election was the most secure election in history.

We also know that black voters in Georgia turned out in large numbers for the the Democratic presidential candidate as well as the two fellows running for the senate in the run-off election Jan. 5, 2021. They supported a Catholic for president and then a Jew and a black Baptist preacher for the Senate. You can’t get much more ecumenical than that!er

So the powers that be in the “Empire State of the South” want no more liberal election outcomes in their state. They figure the only way to preserve their power and to win is is to suppress the vote of blacks and other minorities as well as younger people and the poor who generally vote Democratic.

Georgia state gov’t needs to stop voter suppression

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How can we stop this?

Get the powerful corporations with headquarters in Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta area, to speak out against these shameful and undemocratic measures. Make them lean on the government leaders and curtail any and all campaign funding for ‘em. Boycott the businesses if that is what it will take to right this wrong in Georgia. It worked in North Carolina years ago when protesting that’s state’s actions against another minority group – transgenders.

I believe people of all races and all religions would gladly take part in such a political actions.

It would simply be the right thing to do!

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(For another Georgia boycott suggestion, please check this out 😦Apartheid Georgia)

Delta Airlines and Coca Colo both came out against the Georgia law to suppress voting. See Retaliation) In addition, Major Legue Baseball announced that it will NOT play the All-Star game in Georgia. (No All-Star game.)

Meanwhie, in Texas where other Republicans are seeking to suppress the vote, two firms came out against the. American Airlines and Dell Corporatoon. (Vote against opression.)


More than 100 executives of US corporations met by Zoom to discuss how to combat voter infringements laws passed by Georgia and those being considered by other state governments lead by Republicans.

They included firms like Starbucks, Target, Linked-In, Levi Strauss, Boston Consulting Group as well as the

owner of the Atlanta Falcons. The April 10 meeting was led by the former chief executive of American Express and chief executive of Merck. (See Washington Post story.)

Condemn veterans who attacked Capitol

Any veteran that took part in the January 6th insurrection at the US capitol should be stripped of his or her VA benefits and labeled a “traitor.” 

There is a disturbing number of current and former military persons identified among those who broke into the capitol to overturn the election. About 20 percent of the nearly 300 arrested, according to NPR. They should no longer receive treatment at VA hospitals, get the GI Bill for attending school or obtain a mortgage loan. 

They have acted against the United States by taking part in a rebellion and should be viewed as turncoats who have betrayed their country and the Constitution that all of us veterans vowed to protect and follow upon our enlistment. 

Congressman Ruben Gallegos, a combat Marine Corps veteran, has contacted the head of the VA as well as Homeland Security and Attorney General Merrick Garland to seek action against the veterans who betrayed our country. The Democratic congressman from Arizona, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has suggested that all forego disability compensation, educational benefits, access to health care, employment opportunities and access to veteran-affiliated state programs. 

The US Code governs benefits for veterans and their dependents. Under Sections 6104 and 6105, veterans and other individuals receiving VA benefits who commit mutiny or treason or who are convicted of ‘subversive activities,’ as listed in Section 6105(b), forfeit their right to VA benefits.” 

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I would go further and suggest the government publish the names of the traitors in the newspapers and identify them on television and the radio. Contact their bosses where they work and the churches their families attend decrying them as traitors and deserters of the worst order. 

Remember that five people were killed in the attack on the Capital building. One was a police officer. 

No veteran should have taken part in such a heinous action, let alone follow the instructions of a draft-dodging coward.  

Justice demands a guilty verdict for Trump

I look forward every day to reading the news of an indictment against the former president and/or an update on all of the civil lawsuits against him.

You know they’re coming. All the highly experienced lawyers need do is to simply confirm their concrete and rock-solid facts before going to court and contacting the news media for reporters to share the information on the law with the entire world.

The criminal cases could develop in New York City, Washington DC, or in the state of Georgia. Or possibly all together, with court dates spread out over a series of months. They would highlight either fraud, the January 6th attempted insurrection, or the attempt by Trump to alter a state’s presidential election count. Charges could include collusion, obstruction of justice, inciting violence, racketeering, sexual assault, bribery, intimidation, missuse of assets, and dereliction of duty.

Would they focus once again on the Stormy Daniels payoff by Trump’s lawyer, the fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen, who was convicted and sentenced to jail? Please remember that Trump was named as “Individual-1” in that legal action.

The civil actions could focus on the 2016 Inauguration moneys unaccounted for, his groping of a former Apprentice television contestant, or a defamation case from a woman who said Trump raped her in a clothing store in the mid 1990s.

“Individual-1” facing a large number of criminal and civil lawsuits

The former president will lose despite the arguments and the millions of dollars his lawyers will charge while offering a dead-dog loser of a defense in each case. The main question I have is whether he will be ordered to serve time in jail like the former leader of France who bribed a judge was recently sentenced for his corruption. Or will Trump be given a form of house arrest like France did when demanding that Napoleon Bonaparte be exiled to the island of Elbo before escaping and meeting his Waterloo shortly after.

I believe justice requires swift and reassuring action against Trump. It has taken too much of America’s time and patience for the legal process to finally confront and hold him accountable, the worse president of the United States.

It will bring about a peace and a much-needed comfort our country has been seeking these many years.

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Would Richard Nixon had faced a similar dilemma if he wasn’t pardoned by President Gerald Ford? He would have been ordered to go to jail or be banished to live and never leave his sprawling mansion in San Clemente, Calif.

Trump could be banished to and ordered under penalty of imprisonment never to leave his Florida home at Mar-a-Logo. He could also be ordered to relinquish use of any Twitter, Facebook or any other social media outlet.

(For more reading on Trump’s legal jeapordy please see this NPR report.)

Universe conspires: All roads lead to Georgia

Today, I am a Georgia boy once again. And if we try hard enough, all of us could be Georgians!

Over the next several weeks I hope Americans join with me in offering positive intentions to convince the universe to focus and raise up the wonderful State of Georgia. 

We need all who can possibly vote in Georgia to march to the poles or to drop their mail-in ballots in favor of the two candidates that would create enough Democrats in the Senate to support President-elect Joe Biden help America heal and grow stronger. 

I am confident that the former vice president will follow the dictates of my old alma mater — the Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA — and “accomplish the mission” while “looking out for the welfare” of the men and women he has been elected to lead. 

Yes, we should all focus on Georgia and create such a wonderful and spiritually-lifting vibe to win over the senate in the runoff election January 5, 2021. 

GEORGIA ON MY MIND

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John F Kennedy helped the world to focus on another state, a war-torn land, that was split during the what historians call the Cold War. He wrote his own speech stating “We are all Berliners.” Years later, the Berlin Wall came down and the world prospered along with a united and allied Germany. 

I believe the same highly focused intention can help America accomplish a similar Herculean task and provide the votes to win this war against the virus, the failing economy and the negativity of the past several years. 

Yes, today we are all Georgians and will be united for the good of all the people. I spent six months in the state training for the battlefield in Vietnam and then three more weeks to learn how to jump out of an airplane to accomplish that mission. I revere the state and feel enlightened by the words of Ray Charles “All roads lead back to you” Georgia! 

And let’s not forget what the book “The Alchemist” shared with us all: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The Universe smiled upon us and granted the Georgia blessing for all America!

Protesting – a really great democratic right

I have protested more in the past several months than I had ever exercised that American Constitutional-right in my entire life and feel really good about my actions!

I protested the attempted curtailment of postal services at the Conshohocken Post Office and knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds at the Montgomery County Courthouse in protest of the police killing of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, I took part in a rally against the current president by waving banners of Biden-for-president in West Conshohocken that was created by a Hispanic youth from Norristown who was but 19-years-old.

And, as a former combat infantry platoon leader, I felt honored to have joined forces with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at the courthouse steps in Norristown to protest gun violence a few months ago.

Today is the anniversary of the world’s largest protest ever. It was on October 15, 2011, that global protests were held inspired by the Arab Spring, the Icelandic protests, the Portuguese “Geração à Rasca”, the Spanish “Indignants”, the Greek protests, and the Occupy movement. Global demonstrations were held in more than 950 cities in 82 countries. The protests were launched under the slogan “United for Global Democracy.”

I had taken part in only three protests prior to my most recent activities. I felt it was my duty to speak out and assert my right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution which says the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

My first protest occurred in Philadelphia outside the former Inquirer building. I was a union organizer representing The Newspaper Guild and proudly marched in the job action against management.

My next two protests also took place in Philadelphia a block away from Independence Hall as I joined a bunch of Buddhists protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet. I carried signs and smiled and waved at motorists who honked in support while passing us in the rain that poured on both occasions.

Protesting the actions of the postmaster general in Conshohocken

I feel that protesting is a form of duty, if you know what I mean. As an issue arises, I believe the universe is providing me a way to show my feelings.

It was most rewarding to join my fellow public defenders outside the county courthouse in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. I also took pride as a veteran to outwardly protest the use of assault rifles in America.

Like I said. It’s a way of doing my duty for God and country. You ought to try it sometime!

The Masking on America’s Streets Today

I want to unmask my true feelings about the Masking of America and how to get people to care enough for one another to be a little more considerate while walking outdoors.

First off, you should always honor social distancing and stay at least six feet away from persons. And you should always wear a mask when entering a business establishment, supermarket or one of my favorite places, a Target store.

But you don’t necessarily need to wear it when exercising by walking on the street, pushing a baby carriage, or attending to your dog outside in suburban areas like the town I live in , Conshohocken, PA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t address whether people should wear face coverings while exercising outdoors; it only specifies what people should do when they come into contact with others. For the time being, whether or not you choose to wear a face cover when you’re outside is at your own discretion.

Unlike going to the supermarket where it might be harder to keep six feet of distance in narrow aisles, “people generally do not need face coverings while walking in their neighborhoods and practicing social distancing,” said Judith Lightfoot, DO, chief of infectious disease at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey.

In rural and suburban neighborhoods where the foot traffic is light and people honor social-distancing guidelines, some people choose to walk without face coverings. You may feel comfortable doing this because you’re outside in fresh air, and you aren’t coming within six feet of anyone else in your travels.

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Now for my real gripe. Everywhere you look in America, it seems, there are discarded gloves and masks in streets and parking lots, left behind by people who couldn’t be bothered to find a nearby trash bin.

I counted seven masks on a walk a few weeks ago and I called the borough government to complain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly where each discarded piece of crap was located except for the local library where kids usually play. It was removed within hours. The next day I carried a plastic rubber type of glove my son gave me and I picked up ten masks and got rid of ‘em properly.

discarded mask.jpg

People who discard their masks should be fined for their disregard for others

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In New England, someone abandoned their gloves in a cart at Costco, leaving an employee to fish them out and sanitize the cart before it could be used again.

It got so bad in New York City, that Ryan McKenzie, a restauranteur who lives in Manhattan, began cleaning it up. “I couldn’t believe what I saw so I went to the store and bought a grabber and for the last two hours in three square blocks of the East Village, this is what I found,” he told HuffPost. “It’s abhorrent and needs to be brought to people’s attention.”

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In the wake of complaints, local authorities are reminding folks of the penalties of littering.

After receiving so many reports of gloves and masks left behind in Parsippany, New Jersey, the local police department issued a warning on Facebook: “Clean up and properly dispose of your used gloves and wipes. If you do not, you can be charged and fined up to $500.”

In Yorktown, New York, the current fine of $500 for littering will be doubled to $1,000 for the first violation for anyone caught improperly discarding face masks and gloves.

Let’s hope our fellow Americans can pick up after themselves before a discarded mask or a  glove cause the virus to spread to you or me.

Highlights of Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote. Continue reading

D-Day Paratrooper falls prey to Covid-19

An American hero has fallen to the Coronavirus and the world may never see the likes of him ever again.
Ninety-eight-year-old George Shenkle, a card-carrying member of the “Greatest Generation” took part in the invasion of Normandy more than 75 years ago, freeing our universe from the evil of the Nazis. He served as a paratrooper with three combat jumps – including both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge — and got a purple heart in return for the wounds he received after hitting the ground and running into enemy fire and explosions. Continue reading

An Officer and a Gentleman Recalled

I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant 50 years ago and looking back I see it as one of the greatest achievements of my life. Also, one of the luckiest ones and I’m so glad to still be around to tell about it.
Yes, by an Act of Congress I was made “An Officer & a Gentleman.” I don’t know where that title came from  —  Great Britain I guess —  but I tried to live up to it’s “ideal” while in the army and when discharged and choosing different career paths in my life. Continue reading

Seeing a Divine Hand in the Worst of Times

God works in mysterious ways.
Put another way, the Universe will conspire to bring about what you really want and need in life, even though you may not know it when the Divine Intervention takes place.
Or even like it. The intervention that is. And on first blush, it may even seem bad but you realize on reflection it had to have happened for you to progress in life. Continue reading

Karma enlightens Groundhog Day movie

Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading

GI Bill to celebrate its 75th anniversary!

I would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill which is marking its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019.
My father, who was born on a small Greek Island, never went beyond sixth grade. My mother, daughter of Hungarian refugees, was the first in her family to graduate from a high school in New Jersey.
And I had barely made it through Dobbin’s Tech, a trade school, having transferred from a Catholic high school after I got caught playing hooky and ordered to go to summer school for religion. No one – including myself — saw college in my lifetime.
Continue reading

‘Welcome Home’ this Veterans Day 2018

One hundred years ago peace-loving people throughout the world commemorated the “War to End All Wars” by institutionalizing a holiday that morphed into Veterans Day in America.

World War I, as historians have named it, did not end all of the wars and in 20 years the nations of the earth faced the worst world war mankind has ever known. Continue reading

August 22 — we’ll never forget Patty Ward

Patty Ward, a Specialist 4 with a helicopter gunship, was shot down 50 years ago while flying to the aid of US Army soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was one of four men who died when their helicopter was hit and crashed.

Patty was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in connection with helping to rescue other grunts wounded in another battle. His family in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia received the medal posthumously. Continue reading

Guidance from Above seen from a distance

Are there moments in our life when we can see God’s fingerprints or the Will of the Universe directing us along our path? I’m talking about seeing such a Divine event as it is occurring or upon hindsight years later.

That’s the question raised by a group of my friends at the Spiritual Sharing Circle that meets once a month at the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading

The printer’s life for Ben Franklin and me!

“Here lies Ben Franklin — a printer” is the message gracefully displayed at the gravesite of my favorite Founding Father in the City of Philadelphia.  He was ambassador to both England and France as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and contributor to the US Constitution. He was also an inventor, a philosopher and creator of the first library, the first zoo and the first fire company in the New World. Continue reading

Name that Tune; Five of my Favorite Ones

Songs have a way of taking me back to a time of my life that provided milestones for the path leading me to where I am today.

We all have them, those cherished ones that we hold dear. Some of which may cause a tear to flow, a shit-eaten’ grin to form. I recently thought of five of ‘em and simply wanted to share them with “old folks at home” who might also remember them. Continue reading

Father Koenig’s life lessons at St. Ludwig’s

Father Koenig put the gloves on me when I was ten years old and directed me toward the kid who was my same size but some two years older. That kid – Billy McLaughlin –  kicked my butt. But I never cried or gave up as I swung wildly at him in efforts to land my own punches. Continue reading

Big Moose bar helps wayward boys to grow

My mother hit me upside the head when she caught me drinking beer in the Big Moose bar up the street from where we lived.

I was 16 years old at the time and sipping a Ballantine beer with a friend from Dobbins Technical High School. Someone must have ratted me out as my good friend Joe Walsh and I — both young white guys — drank in the African American bar in a section of Philadelphia called Brewerytown. Continue reading

Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.

For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading

Satsang opens world of ‘loving awareness’

I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of  life.

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.”  According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading

Thích Nhất Hạnh sees the suffering in us

Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.

I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading

100 nations represented at Contoveros site

flag.pngSomeone from 100 different countries has viewed this site and my flag counter can attest to number of nations represented here.

I started to write a Blog some seven years ago and hooked up with a link that not only counted the number of persons viewing Contoveros, but determined which country that person was from. I placed the flag counter at the top of my Blog so that anyone — including myself — could readily see it on linking into Contoveros.It’s at my home site. (See Flag Counter for the latest count up to this minute. Trinidad is the latest country added to my list!) Continue reading

Meditation starts as you travel through life

I learned to meditate while riding on a train.

I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to. Continue reading

Accepting the ‘As Is’ with Gratitude & Joy

There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.

Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading

Sign language opens my heart to neighbors

My greatest concern when I placed the political signs on my lawn was whether they would offend someone in my neighborhood. I live in a working class section of Pennsylvania, some 15 miles outside of Philadelphia. It was dependent on steel and manufacturing for many years but eventually saw a decline as jobs left the little borough of Conshohocken for elsewhere. Continue reading

Cats & Dogs would come first in a do-over

If I had my druthers, I think I would have made cats and dogs more like people and make people more like the other animals.

Yes, as God, I would have changed the book of Genesis and created the dog first and then taking a rib from the first one, I would have created his loving mate and good friend, the cat. Continue reading

’12 Angry Men’ helps presume innocence

Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading

Immigrants unite against Trump out of love

I was unashamed of the tears that fell while watching the father of a young soldier describe the sacrifice his son made for America the other night. Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigrant, spoke with pride at the Democratic Convention and I couldn’t help but see my father in him and the love all parents felt for children called by our nation to defend it. Continue reading

LSD truthfulness speaks to past love lost

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just thought you needed to know, that’s all.”

Peaches said nothing as we sat on the floor of her vestibule. I saw her eyes water up a little and I wanted to cry myself.

“I still love her” I continued without looking at the young girl I had shared such an intimate moment with at the young age of  19.

“I guess I never stopped loving her, if you want to know the truth.”

“You were her best friend in high school and you knew her as much as anybody did” I said, asserting a belief that neither one of us could deny. “I would break up with her, but we’d always got back together every time. You knew that when we first dated.”

“I should have been honest with you. But I liked you, I still like you. And wouldn’t hurt you for anything. But I don’t love you. I love Peggy, and I guess I always will.” Continue reading

‘Instigator’ muse helps to open new worlds

Can someone become the “muse” of another?

Could my reckless and often unabashed “agitation” be the instigation for another person to find the voice she needed to speak directly from her soul?

I like to think so. I believe I might have sparked a keg of memories that were waiting for the right moment and touch to manifest and explode for the world to finally see. Continue reading

Mother recalls son’s last ‘earthly’ words

By TEA

It was Saturday morning, May the 19th of 2012. I awoke that early morning feeling well rested. Since the beginning of the new year I had started working Monday thru Thursday, having Fridays off. In the past, when working a full week my Saturdays were spent sleeping in and catching up on the many hours of sleep lost during the week. Continue reading

Congress protest makes me proud of USA

I’ve never been so proud of being an American as I was the past week when some forty members of the Senate held an unprecedented filibuster and it was followed up by Congressional Democrats who took the House Chamber hostage for a“sit-in” protest against our nation’s inability to halt the sale of high-powered weapons now being used for mass destruction. Continue reading

Anger starts out from my basic personality

Why is anger my “go to” emotion? Why does it crop up whenever I’m confronted with something I don’t understand or something I feel threatened by?

“Crop up” is not the right phrase to use. My anger “erupts.” It goes from zero to sixty within the span of a mini-second. It always seemed to be that way, even as a kid. Now at last I think I know why. Continue reading

Touch at least one heart with Meet-Up now

If you could go back in time to attend a Meet-Up in Jerusalem with the famous rabbi from Nazareth to share some bread, wine and good conversation, would you sign up and go?

How about traveling back some 2,600 years to give a listen to the Four Noble Truths in northern India by a fellow who some claim had reached enlightenment? Would you agree to meet weekly to discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Continue reading

A Course of Love is uniquely one of a kind!

Reading a chapter from the book, “A Course of Love,” is much like my study of the Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah.

I get uplifted and carried to another place, a different state of mind where I feel closer to the Word. The Word of God, if you know what I mean.

Continue reading

Emergency hits home; order soon restored

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

‘Love & Rockets’ explode near this veteran

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

Dissolving Pain through seeing differently

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

‘Brewerytown Way’ Brought Back to Life

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

Trusting the Universe when ‘lost & found’

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

Some ‘WON’ is in the kitchen with Julie!

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’ — first step for my true path

“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.

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First Phase of Evolution:               “I Don’t Know!”

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.”

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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.

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“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!”

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“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

 

 

Majestic feeling opens me to another world

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

Chanting can cure what ails your busy mind

“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

Serving graciously as a St. Ludwig altar boy

Ad Deum Qui Laetificat Juventutem Meam!

That’s one of the prayers I would recite as an altar boy at St. Ludwig’s Roman Catholic Church and I’ll never forget it ‘til the day I die. Don’t ask me what it means. I never figured it out, but I loved to say it! Continue reading

Korea calling me to seek answers within

Korea awaits me next week as I travel more than a thousand miles to find myself and discover reasons why I am still here on planet earth.

Yes, I’m joining a group from Philadelphia, New York and Chicago that will fly to Seoul, South Korea, to take part in the centennial celebration of the WON Buddhism founding by its master on April 28th, 1916. Continue reading

A Course of Love awakens love inside & out

The Beatles got it right in the 1960s.

“All you need is love.”

“Love is all there is.”

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I couldn’t agree with them more, particularly after experiencing the warm glow and gentle caress of a bunch of  lovers who helped me to open my foolish heart to “A Course of Love.Continue reading

Equanimity for anticipation & expectations

Carly Simon sang it . . .

The Heinz ketchup bottle illustrated what it could look like . . .

And I have fallen victim to it whenever I try something new and start to visualize what could possibly go wrong. Continue reading

Nothing found when seeking Love within!

I went within and felt nothing this morning. I knew this day would come, but I thought I would put it off until the day I’d die. Yes, I thought I’d have enough juice within to tell my story until I took that last breath.

But Life fooled me. It hit me upside the head, showing me you can’t take anything for granted. All things are subject to change. All phenomena is transitory, all is impermanent. The only permanence that exists is the Love I believe that energizes us and the world we all live in. Continue reading