The Middle Way

Zen Spot #48— Mindfulness, meditation and opposing impossible mirrors with my son walking away January 31, 2018 00:05

The mirror when I shave

I don’t use the mirror on the medicine cabinet when I shave. A much bigger mirror hangs over the bathroom sink in front of me. The medicine cabinet is perpendicular, to my right, and is hard to use anyway. When it opens widely enough, and the mirrors are opposite each other, the reflection of both mirrors appears to go on infinitely, as opposing mirrors are wont to do.

We’ve all observed the phenomenon and are, perhaps, a little disappointed and frustrated when the reflection veers away from what would be billions and billions of repetitions because we can never get the opposing forces to square off perfectly.

Matthew

He is my first born. With that, for him, came the awesome responsibility of raising me. At the time of his arrival I wasn’t fully formed and, while no human being ever is, my unready, unsteady soul — and mind — could have served him better. Perhaps most new parents feel this way. Perhaps not. Perhaps comparison is a waste of time.

As with all first children, each milestone — the milestones that will serve as mile markers for the children who follow — presents a new and sometimes frightening experience.

He had curly hair — white blonde locks that spun like I fully expect an angel’s hair spins. Little old ladies would touch it in the grocery store. Middle-aged women remarked about how much they pay to obtain such elusive beauty. The sun, itself, was almost as bright.

The son ventures

Matthew was about 18 months old and our extended family was sitting in my parents’ back yard having a picnic. The next-door neighbors had four children, each of whom, believe it or not, was within in twelve months of Matthew’s age. At the time, we lived in a home twenty miles away, but Matthew was familiar with my parents’ back yard. We played with him often in the grass but, until that day, he’d never ventured away from us toward other children.

That day, the four brothers and sisters came into our yard to bounce around together. They neither welcomed Mathew or ignored him. They were following butterflies that didn’t exist and swirled in the usual proximal orbit that brothers and sisters always do.

Matthew looked over at his mother asking silently if he could go play with the other children. He was excited and scared. The unknown beckoned.

We let his hand go and he ventured out into the world.

Veering

Matthew and I were in Bologna Italy when we found the hallway shown above. For the first time in my life, the veering from reflecting mirrors was alive and in front of me. See the picture. I was fascinated. 

Matthew was living in the neighborhood and passed the hallway everyday. It had disappeared. The experience was pedestrian because, for him, it was truly pedestrian.

To me, it was very special. Silly glimpses into the infinite are wonderful. My camera raised and I took the picture as he was walking away. He was venturing into the world as I considered a place to sit and breathe. 

That day, I didn’t. And I’m not sure where the hallway is located or I would offer an address. The photo will have to suffice.

Close your eyes and breathe.

>

About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 

 


Zen Spot #63 — Mindfulness, meditation and a father’s peaceful passing January 30, 2018 00:05

We were watching Goodfellas

My father’s hospice bed was facing the TV. My mother and Antoinette were sitting on my father’s right side. I was on his left. The way my father’s breathing changed…noticeably…into a very quick, shallow, mechanical staccato right when the movie went to commercial was, at once, startling and expected. I’d read enough about the final days of those with cancer to know we were close to the end.

Morphine

He’d been in bed, at home, for three weeks, knowing that it was only a matter of time. My father proved to be my father to the end in that he never showed a lick of pain. In trying to educate myself about his final weeks, all the information I could find prepared me to watch a man dealing with a level of pain that would be significant, even as a coma would engulf him in the final days. Morphine is available and recommended. The coma never appeared.

We administered morphine twice over the last two days. His response to our questions about his level of discomfort, after he had lost the ability to speak, was to simply and rigidly wave his hand, in an arc, over the area below his navel, from hip to hip. There was no discernible relief because there was no discernible pain. I often wonder if he indicated discomfort, knowing we’d administer the morphine, with the hope that it would somehow relieve our pain.

The accidental Buddhist

My father was a devout Catholic. Never missing mass, he prayed faithfully and, more than anybody I’ve ever met, practiced The Noble Eightfold Path. He was humbled and committed. He struggled and was more poor than I ever knew. His generosity and patience belied his struggle. Years passed before I realized. 

In particular, I remember a light blue polyester hoodie, the sleeves of which strained awfully to reach the top of his wrist knuckles. People remarked that he was cheap. Twenty-two years of a sweatshirt that didn’t fit because he was poor. The money he earned went to my mother, brother and me. Selfless.

Self. Less.

Crossing over

The nano-second his breathing changed, our eyes locked on each other. We stood up and surrounded him. We knew. He was still breathing but he was already gone. His jaw slacked and exposed his lower teeth. More time was taken in between each breath until he froze.

I expected something different as he crossed the finish line…relief, fear, sadness, pain, confusion. None consumed me. I was on a first name basis with each during the previous weeks. Now, there was peace.

Just peace.

I wonder where he went.

>

About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #83— Mindfulness, meditation and throwing a boomerang with my dad January 30, 2018 00:05

The accidental Buddhist

My father was a devout Catholic. Never missing mass, he prayed faithfully and, more than anybody I’ve ever met, practiced The Noble Eightfold Path. He was humble and committed. He struggled and was more poor than I ever knew. His generosity and patience belied his struggle. Years passed before I realized.

In particular, I remember a light blue polyester hoodie, the sleeves of which strained awfully to reach the top of his wrist knuckles. People remarked that he was cheap. Twenty-two years of a sweatshirt that didn’t fit because he was poor. The money he earned went to my mother, brother and me. Selfless.

Self. Less.

Options

My father worked a lot and, as a result, my brother and I didn’t see him much. When he was around, we didn’t do much together and this fact never bothered me. In hindsight, I don’t think he knew what to do because his father didn’t do anything with him. An alternative is that he felt he did enough, and sacrificed enough, that he had earned rest. A third option is that he didn’t care. I refuse to believe the third. Options one and two are a dead heat.

It never mattered to me that we didn’t connect more. I knew he was there. I knew he loved me.

Flight

There was a park one block from my home. Ten acres of open space plus two baseball fields, two tennis courts, a corn field and swing sets. One day, when I was about nine, my father brought a boomerang home. I didn’t know what it was but, when he told me that you could throw it in the air and it would return to you — like magic--I was curious.

The idea confounded me. In my mind’s eye, I pictured throwing a baseball and having it return. Curve balls were, at that point, beyond my ability but I’d thrown a baseball thousands of times. I didn’t understand. He must be mistaken.

Belief

We walked to the park together. I didn’t listen to a word he said because I was waiting for the magic — and he delivered. The curve curved tighter than any bird I’d ever seen. And it spun funny, like it was being jerked into the turn while, at the same time, being completely smooth. 

It fell to his feet. Right where it started out, it finished. 

A full circle with up and downs along the way.

>

About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?