Why be nice?

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
-- Ricky Nelson, "Garden Party" Came across a blog post on Tumblr the other day, the OP was bemoaning the fact that they'd been nice to people and didn't get the reaction they expected.
As they put it:
I don’t understand how I can be so nice to people and I STILL get the cold shoulder

I replied to the post thusly: Hon, if you’re being nice just so people will like you you’re doomed to frequent disappointment.
People are tired, irritated, busy, distracted, preoccupied, bored, forgetful, it’s generally nothing personal nor malicious; and even when it is, it’s cause they’re just a**holes, nothing really to do with you.

Do it because that’s the kind of person you want to be.

I imagine this person is young, it's a hard lesson to learn that what you put out to the Cosmos may well not be reciprocated immediately or in the way you hope/expect. People aren&#…

How much is enough?

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do. 
--Voltaire, philosopher (21 Nov 1694-1778) 
There's always more to do.

Even Mother Theresa could have done more.

It's in the nature of incarnate existence that conditions of struggle and conflict and waste and misallocation of resources and habitat destruction persist despite many heroic efforts to ameliorate them.

Without getting into questions over whether any or all of those are ultimately resolvable, I do argue that we aren't meant to spend our entire time toiling against the ceaseless tide of suffering and neediness that has defined the human condition on planet earth since time immemorial and remains so right now.

Devoting all our energy to localized patches, or even apparent "systemic fixes" (with often appalling unintended consequences); or railing against the unfairness of it all and beating our breasts at our limitations and inabilities to address them; often means we miss all the glory and wonder th…

Getting back to THE WORK...

Penelope has been after me to write more. I've been so caught up in the "coming out" process, and (not so incidentally) having so much fun with it, that I've let other parts of my journey/mission get sidetracked. 
Reaching this place in my life is not any sort of license to slack off on the more spiritual side of what I've been working on.
In fact, it's arguable that the whole transition process is a crucial piece of the larger spiritual journey.
In classical/medieval alchemy, the figure of the hermaphrodite was an important symbol representing the merging or unification of opposites (akin to the Tao being the One behind the opposing/complementary entities/forces of Yin and Yang in Eastern mysticism).
It's a symbolic representation which (for perhaps obvious reasons) I have found compelling over the years; and I flatter myself to think I may actually be expressing now in some fashion: the merging of male and female, sun and moon, light and darkness, Apol…

If you meet the Buddha...

It's said: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

At one level this paradox/koan is meant to point out that any Buddha you come across outside yourself is not the real Buddha.

Then I got to thinking about the implications of "the road", that might be taken less literally and refer to one's personal spiritual path; so the admonition can also be taken as a caution against too readily ascribing Buddha qualities to oneself.

Many a guru and televangelist should heed that advice.

I don't think I'm personally in too much danger of falling into that particular trap. I have the opposite problem: I'm too ready to put myself down, feel less than, assume I'm not as good as everybody else.

In a way it's a reverse sort of egotism, I'm better than everybody else at being worse than everybody else. Kind of perverse, isn't it? :-/

Anyway, much of my own process recently has been one of overcoming that reticence to recognize my worth. That I may genu…

Dark Nights of the Soul

I was reminded recently that even the best among us will sometimes falter. Nobody is immune from doubt or feeling disheartened or disenchanted with the sometimes randomly baffling and cruel appearing "lessons" we incarnate beings receive at the hands of material reality (not to mention one another).

"Enlightenment" is no guarantee (nor armor) against any of that. Pain and loss are the hallmarks of material existence. But they're not the only thing, the Cosmos is full of mystery and wonder and none of us does more than barely scratch its surface during our time on Earth.

Some claim that Free Will is an illusion. And perhaps it is in the sense of the freedom to act as one wills. But I argue that we're always completely free in how we feel about and respond to whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Buddha said it's desire (expectations, wishing that things were different) that are the root of suffering in materiality. It may be impossible to eliminate th…

Quantum Puzzles

I've been thinking about a possible way to interpret/resolve the observer problem in quantum theory. It’s kind of like the old riddle about whether if a tree falls in a forest with no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The answer depends somewhat on the definition of “sound”, the requisite physical events are present, but if no perceptive system is there to “hear”, then does “sound” per se occur?

The quantum observer problem presents a similar paradox: Without an observer the quantum field exists in superposition of all possible states. The act of observation -- sensing -- collapses the quantum field into what we call perceived material reality.

If a tree falls in a forest with no one there to observe it, does the tree even exist to fall? Or the forest for it to exist within? Does even the notion of "falling" have meaning?

Classical physics (and our perceptive and reasoning systems) would have it that the existence of objects is independent of their being obser…

Happy All Hallows' Day!

Today is November 1st, the day after Hallowe'en (All Hallows' Eve).

Traditionally this was the night where the spirits (and sometimes not so incorporeal bits) of the dead were able to walk the Earth again.

In earlier times it was the practice in some cultures to light great bonfires and stay awake all night creating a great ruckus to keep these restless souls at bay until the sun rose. Other cultures would leave out food or specially baked goods for their ancestors, lest they feel slighted and cause mischief (in similar fashion to the fairies, with which there is a great deal of overlap).

Echos of this are found in modern Halloween parties, "tricks and treats", and the traditional "spooky" costuming (the current common Princesses and Power Rangers notwithstanding).

Where I grew up, in New Orleans, it was called "All Saints' Day", and it was traditionally the day when families would visit the (often elaborate above ground) tombs of their parent…