Islam

Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed

4/16/10

Day 16

I didn't have to work at my main gig today. Being manager, they kind of assume that I'll go in and keep the place moving, but I'm not the director. I manage teachers and curriculum. There is no need for me to go in there and sit with the staff and upper-management workaholics. Besides, they mostly sit around playing Starcraft on the company's dime while their wifes toil away at home with the children. I don't like computer games. In fact, I lost all interest in gaming after Super Nintendo. NHL '96, Super Mario Cart and Donkey Kong Country were more than enough for this guy.


So, I tried to sleep late, but couldn't. I was up by 6:00am and snooping around online; reading politics and catching up on some bookmarked articles. I guess I could have meditated, but I have so much free-time today and didn't want to burn through it all before noon. I did, however, have to go to the hospital at 8:00am. First of all, "the hospital" is a hospital by Western standards, but its usage is more like a clinic. I didn't go because I'm ill either. I've actually gotten over that. No, this one was just for fun. It's so cheap here, that there's almost no reason not to go.


I did some blood work; peed in a cup; got some X-rays; checked my eyes & ears; did a blood pressure test; and checked my height and weight. I could have grown, no? I obviously will hear back about the urine, blood and X-rays later, but the other stuff we can discuss. My eyes are perfect -as usual. I've always had perfect eyes. My hearing is, well, pretty bad. They actually told me that it's "abnormal". Except for high-frequency noises, I can hear everything quite well. I don't know what happened in there today. 


My weight is the interesting one. When I started this Buddhist project, I weighed 72 kg (158 lbs). Now, 16 days later, I'm down to 65 kg (143 lbs). Not consuming meat, dinner or booze has clearly contributed to that loss. Don't worry, though. I feel great and they said my weight is fine for my height and age. I'm sure I'll plateau out soon.


My blood pressure is more of a concern. I'm in the pre-hypertension range, but am totally not surprised. I've never eaten well. Fortunately, my body has been able to metabolize most of the excess pretty efficiently, so I've been able to escape any legitimate weight gain. Of course, that has nothing to do with my arteries and sodium-levels. Regardless, I'm not too worried yet and will lower it over the next couple months through the continuation of parts of my Buddhist diet -namely no meat, smoking or sugar and an increase of bananas, oranges, legumes and cabbage.


***


Buddhism is not that big on marriage. In fact, it's not really a family-oriented religion. The strong emphasis on detachment, renunciation and separation from worldly desires contradicts the very idea of what marriage and family life are supposed to be about. Being relatively new to this marriage game, I don't like the idea of detaching myself from my wife, dog or family. Still, the Dharma seems to be full of useful advice on how to have a successful marriage. 


Conflict is a part of life and is certainly a part of marriage. My wife and I have faced many conflicts together and we are sure to face many more. When these problems arise, the natural thing to do is to assign blame. The reasonable person inside all of us is convinced that there was a cause for this problem and that that person must be made aware of the suffering he or she has caused. Perhaps it's because American culture in obsessed with our notion of "justice" that unless there's a definitive victory, we feel like we were unjustly treated or wronged. I've never agreed with this, but still, the question I often must ask myself is, "Are you arguing for yourself or for the improvement of the situation?" More often than not, I'm arguing out of greed; the desire to claim another "W" for my non-existent win column. I'm fanning the flames for selfish reasons and that is wrong. The world is already on fire.  (Bruce Springsteen sang about it back in '85.)


The Buddha said there are two worldly passions that defile and cover the purity of Buddha-hood. 
The first is the passion for analysis and discussion by which people become confused in judgement.
Everybody is right, all the time. My wife is convinced that she's right all the time, just like I'm convinced that I'm right all the time. I actually keep much of my certainty to myself because at some point in my short life, I learned a very valuable lesson. When spouses argue, there is no winner, only losers. Let me expand on that a bit. If my wife and I are arguing, we both are presented with two paths.We can either argue to the point of exhaustion where one of us gives in and retreats, i.e., makes a faux-apology or storms off -OR- we can put our judgement and desire to "win" aside and honestly have a conversation. Remember, even if you are the declared or de facto winner of an argument, you still lose. After all, what was actually gained? Nothing. Like the quote above says, people love to analyze and discuss things, but it can't be done if we're constantly judging the other's intentions, qualifications and motives. 


I know I talked about marriage yesterday as well, but it's what I know. It's my life, but I also think that the mindfulness of this month has made me weigh a few things differently than I did before. Buddhism focuses so much on the aspect of causes, conditions and suffering that now it almost pains me to act in a way that would cause suffering for my wife. 


Or it could be the fact that I'm not working as much as I used to (perk of being the boss) and have a lot more alone time than I'm used to. Maybe that's a good thing though. Mindfulness is better than never-ending yapping, right?
A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker. 
***


It's about 9:30pm here. I'm getting ready to bow and then walk my dog. The wife has a company get-together tonight, so it looks like it's a boys night here at the Hogan house. Maybe Bear and I will watch Old Yeller. Or better yet, maybe we'll watch The Bear.

8 comments:

  1. You have great wisdom for a young guy...your thoughts on the pointlessness of arguing make good sense. Some like to argue for the sake of arguing. It never leads to much good. I have many thoughts on your health issues but we can discuss those separately.

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  2. I learned a lot. No one ever wins anything in an argument between spouses. Mindfulness and forgiveness are what it's all about.

    Sounds like the Beals or Diggs hypertension curse is upon you. At least you are aware of it.

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  3. Isn't someone who's a "good talker" and has a "passion for analysis and discussion", I don't know, a teacher? I get not wanting to confuse people with your analysis and discussion, and not running your yap, but it seems like Buddha's being a little contradictory here.

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  4. Buddha taught through action more than words. But yeah, I agree. Buddha contradicts himself from time to time.

    I think what he was saying here is that not all people are teachers and none of us are free from judgement. There's a constant need to frame the opposition based on "sinful" values like greed, anger and wrong mindfullness and because of that, our analysis and discussion is typically futile, or at the very least, flawed.

    I'm moving on to the teachings of the lamas soon, so perhaps they've sought to correct some of these glaring contradictions or made some of the dated cultural artifacts (women must serve their husband) a little more accessible for modern Buddhists.

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  5. I can't wait to see the transition from Buddhism to Catholicism. May 1st is going to be quite the shock.

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  6. Did I read that right? Are you staying a vegetarian?

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  7. You did read that correctly. Fish will be a battle though. I love fish.

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  8. Wow. I'm astounded. Fish is the hardest, it's the only thing I ever miss. It is hard keeping this up in Korea. Good luck to you.

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