Sawadee khap from the warm waves of Thailand!
Happy to be hOMe again. Conveniently, i feel that way almost anywhere i go… and yet there’s this familiar flavor of effortless contentment on some of my favorite patches of Asian soil. The static subsides…
Mozzies & the Matrix
Last month in Bodhgaya (where the Buddha formerly known as Prince Siddhartha, having spurned his 9-to-5, sat beneath the Bodhi tree posing for tourist paintings, many of which are still available today), i was fortunate enough to attend the 25th annual Nonviolent Mosquito Eviction Festival*, where i nearly mastered the gentle kung-fu technique; after a slow start, through diligent practice, i eventually succeeded in liberating well over 400 skeeters from the confines of my room without harm, and by the end i had accomplished the level of “Two Mosquitos in One Glass and Third in Hollow Fist,” which i’m told is pretty good for a rookie.
Mingyur Rinpoche, a rising star of the exile-born lamas (and now my main meditation teacher), offered very helpful elaborations on the practice, and also gave the transmission of the ancient, ear-whispered commentaries on the Matrix (“When Neo sees the electricity and stops the bullets, that’s a very good description of arriving at the first Bhumi“). And as if that weren’t auspicious enough, there were also 10,000+ monks, nuns, and laypeople making prayers for world peace and offering free medical treatments to thousands of impoverished Indian villagers, so the mozzies and i weren’t the only beneficiaries… 😉
[*CLARIFICATION — Since a few of you expressed confusion about how to discern the border between truth and humor in the story above, allow me to shed some light: There’s no such thing as a “mosquito eviction festival” — the Kagyu Monlam is a somber and inspiring traditional Buddhist gathering for world peace, which merely happens to take place in a land that is blessed with multitudes of mozzies on a mission to teach us compassion and forbearance — but the part about nonviolently removing over 400 of them from my hotel room is completely true. “It’s all in the wrist.” And, yes, Mingyur Rinpoche did refer to that scene from the Matrix in his explanation of what it’s like to begin to see reality as it is but, no, he didn’t actually comment on the mosquito kung-fu practice — nor would he have, since it’s double top secret! 😉 ]
On Noses, Ears, & Hearts
Here in Thailand, we have a brand new prime minister who is peeved at Thailand’s deaf population because of they name by which they refer to him in sign language. They make a fist over their faces, recreating his generous nose, which some have likened to a rose apple. Apparently, he doesn’t feel that this is a respectful way to address a prime minister, but the deaf community has responded that they’ve been calling him “Big Nose” since the ’90s, when he helmed the brutal crackdown against peaceful democracy and human rights activists, and it would be too confusing to Thailand’s deaf to change their language now.
I can sympathize, in a way, having lost all hearing in my right ear quite suddenly just over a year ago. After spending five years building what had grown to become a deeply rewarding career of music production, losing half my hearing (and thus the ability to mix in stereo) was a stunner for my little mind on several levels: physically, because the brain uses stereophonic hearing to place the body in space, to place the sounds we hear (e.g. car horns, sirens, shouting people) to evaluate whether we’re in danger or need to take quick action; emotionally, because so much of my life inspiration had been invested in musical gardening, some of the fruits of which were almost ripe to be shared; and practically, because the SF Bay Area is one of the most expensive places in the world to live and suddenly i found myself without income and without a key body function that had become (half) the foundation of my income. Naturally, i visited many holistic healing heroes (from whom i learned a lot) and even stooped to allopathy (trans-tympanic corticosteriod injection and other joys), but all the king’s horses couldn’t repair the nerve that no longer carries signals from right eardrum to brain.
My old friends at Tao Garden (holistic healing center here in Thailand) didn’t have any new input on the ear, but they did manage to get my platelets flowing freely. The clumpiness of my blood (which i wrote about a couple of years ago — “too much sticky”) may have been part of issue with the tissue. (Blood too thick + capillaries too thin = traffic jam; that’s one theory.) They took about 300ml of blood out, infused it with ozone (which made it maraschino red!), and let it drip back in. Now the dark field microscope shows all my blood cells have lots of elbow room. Not likely to bring the hearing back in my right ear, but perhaps it’ll help me keep it in the left (i.e. if there’s any truth to my neurotologists’ theory that my hearing loss may have been due, at least in part, to a vascular issue, such as poor circulation due to thick blood not circulating properly through narrow capillaries).
Otherwise, the only thing that’s happened so far that has brought any noticeable change in my hearing is, interestingly enough, trekking up and down the paddies in the Himalayas, on and around the spot of land near Kaimpong that we were offered for our retreat center. On the first day we visited the land, i was surprised that, on maybe five occasions, i distinctly heard my own voice in my right ear as i was talking, for just a fraction of a second. The same happened once or twice since then. So far, it happens only during physical exertion, so i intend to exert all the more.
Meanwhile, though — and perhaps until the nanobots can go in there and bionicize my nerve, i’m profoundly enjoying the many blessings of sudden single-sided sensorineural deafness (with the bonus of tinnitus and other strange stuff in my right ear). The gift of deeper compassion for others who suffer invisible-yet-challenging impairments. The creative challenges of learning to mix in mono. The wonders of watching the brain and body-mind grow new pathways, finding new ways to take care of bizniss. The quiet joy of simply noticing the resilience and tenacity of my quiet joy. My happy camper cup overfloweth now more than ever before. This effortless happiness in a time of challenging change could be read as an unsolicited endorsement of Buddha in ’08 [campaign slogan: “Regime change begins at OM”], but maybe it’s just a statistical fluke, a dimpled chad on both cheeks…
Speaking of OM, tomorrow we fly to Delhi and make our way up to Dharamshala, for a reunion with KhanaNirvana, Maynerd Doggie, and the Ocean of Wisdom. For 10 days, HH the Dalai Lama will share with us his incomparable insight into living a life of loving kindness and skillful action to benefit others. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to his teachings again and then have a little time to retreat and reflect on them. Feeling humble and inspired as i prepare to spin a new cocoon…