How is life going where you are? I hope you are well.
The latest from beautiful Pokhara, Nepal follows.
It’s a given that we’re all going to get a little pissed off and frustrated occasionally under current circumstances. That only becomes a real problem if we forget that like all poisons, anger and despair are much better spit out than swallowed. We have to face the facts. Global change and planetary stability are not within our immediate control. The good news is that personal change and mental stability are not only completely within our own control, but also make us more adept at influencing external change and better at dealing with the effects of worldwide malfunctions. This piece of the new book-in-progress is about recognizing and facing undeniable difficulties, spitting out what isn’t serving us well, and moving on to more comfortable and fertile ground—Nepali style.
At the risk of being redundant, here for the umpteenth time is one of my favorite quotes. “The most revolutionary act that a person can perform in this country is to be happy.” Patch Adams.
I’m finding that even if I don’t care at all about being revolutionary, and regardless of which country I am in, practicing the maintenance of common sense, clear vision, and internally generated happiness is still the smartest thing to do.
Breathe very deeply. It helps! No joke. Be well. Love, Tenzin
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Lockdown Resiliency—Nepali Style
“Why can’t we just use all the money to fix shit?!?” Jon Stewart
We are obviously living in a troubled world—but trouble often brings resilience, resilience sponsors resourcefulness, resourcefulness facilitates survival, surviving hard times inspires confidence, confidence can be the birthplace of success, success gives rise to gratitude, gratitude often feeds emotional abundance, and emotional abundance will foster happiness. I’m no Pollyanna. We have a row to hoe that is even longer than that sentence. But humanity has survived and in many cases artistically responded to mass-murdering tyrants, slavery, famines, floods, fires, televangelists, wine in a can, petroleum products in our food, life-size inflatable sex dolls, and Andrew Dice Clay. We will also survive this nasty virus, and the cartel of mentally ill people that are currently facilitating human suffering for personal satisfaction and material gain.
There are many things happening in Asia right now that resemble the America of fifty years ago. Many people here are more innocent and naïve than Americans have been for several decades. They are more trusting of their government, news media, and popular institutions. They are more likely to believe and hope than they are likely to critically think or doubt. This can be a very sweet way to live. There are some very good reasons why the phrase “ignorance is bliss” became one of our more popular expressions during the past century. But folks around the world, certainly not just in Asia, are rapidly discovering that certain types of bliss can be dangerous as well as delusional.
Faithfully accepting that there is a “buddy” God who is on your side to the point where he will slay your enemies for you can make life very comfortable for a while—as can blindly believing that politicians work for the benefit of all the people, all the police always protect and serve the entire public, all doctors have the improvement of your health as their primary motivation, parents always know what is best for their children, the news media reports the unbiased truth, schools teach you what you need to know, legitimate business is always legitimate, banks protect your money, the government protects your interests, the church protects and mediates your relationship with Creation, and of course advertising always gives an honest representation of the product for sale. But like any house that is built on a foundation of bullshit, a collapse is imminent. Unfortunately, any systemic collapse will take a lot of the folks within that system down with it.
Such a collapse is in progress throughout the world right now. Our institutions, economies, and personal belief systems alike are facing the guillotine. Many of us are having trouble releasing our life-long ways of thinking, living, and believing while trying to simultaneously hold on to them. We are stepping on the gas and brake at the same time, and our engines are understandably smoking as they melt.
This is a strange world we live in and it is getting stranger all the time. Thank goodness people are still people! Some folks may be reacting to their fears more than they usually do, but most of us are as loving and trustworthy as ever. In contrast, most of our global information systems have become a cruel and manipulative joke. Bullshit has now become the prevalent norm, truth is rare, and everyone has suddenly become expert on subjects they know nothing about. Fractions of truth that warp badly under the strain of their division from the whole picture, exaggerated fears that long ago crossed the line between constructive caution and flagrant intimidation, and some very unrealistic wishful thinking have morphed into unfounded subjective beliefs that masquerade as facts while folks panic themselves into irrationality.
Regardless of any and all theories about the causes and origins of viral disease, or about the motivations of those pulling society’s strings, the results are obviously tragic.
The reports tell us that India is getting hit as hard by the virus this year as the Western Hemisphere was hit last year. It is often true that as goes India, so goes Nepal. The deaths and many other sad results are due at least in part to an actual plague—and in at least as great a part to the mind-bending results of the way the Corona situation at large has been steered. There is a one-plus-one-makes-three effect that has intensified the problem. Media dramatization fosters fear as corporate/governmental socioeconomic mismanagement and manipulation foster a loss of the control we used to have over our own lives. This produces stress. That lowers the ability of our immune systems to fight off illness. This then strengthens the communicability and effects of the virus, increasing the spread and potency of disease, which then further increases stress. These elements feed each other in an endless loop.
That being said, a couple of very simple, basic understandings have kept life fun and productive for me in spite of dire global circumstances, a liver cancer diagnosis, and being the foreign round peg that doesn’t exactly fit into the domestic square hole for nearly the past two years. The first is that human beings have, from first breath to last, the obligation to work for positive change within our own minds as well as within our own culture. I’ve found that if the inside of my mind isn’t quite right, everything outside of it suffers. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone that knows me whether life is more fun for them when I am being a jackass than it is when I am taking their happiness as well as my own into serious consideration. Ask your neighbors if the mood in the ‘hood benefits or suffers when you throw trash, be it physical or emotional, into the streets.
The other thing that keeps me from occasionally wanting to bite down on a big blasting cap or just walk around all day with my head buried in my own little bullshit is remembering that, in the long run, there may end up being a lot more silver lining to this cloud than we can possibly see now. Precursors of better days are obvious in the lighter, more hopeful, more encouraging, and even amusing sides to the horrid world situation. I see them in action every day during this current lockdown. Our resiliency, and the human ability to adapt and survive in any situation, is astonishing! Our manners can sometimes be very sweet as well. Even the most stubborn among the folks in this town that harbor a blind and total disbelief in any damaging abilities of the virus wear their masks out of respect for their fear-ridden neighbors, as well as a respect for the legal ordinance.
Food stores and essential services are only legally open from five to nine a.m. But a whole Speakeasy/Roaring Twenties style culture has been spawned by creative shop owners and patrons. It is now noon. I knock three times on a sheet metal gate, then wait behind a nearby brick wall as the shop owner behind that gate prepares my carrot juice. With a mindset of invisibility that I remember using during trips through Spanish Harlem to buy heroin from Mr. Lopez in 1972, I slide back around the wall long enough to pay for the juice through a small opening in the sheet metal—and then slide back behind the wall to drink it. While all this goes on, I notice that several other people are also on the street, also on the way to their Speakeasys.
We respect the understaffed police force and the job they are trying to do. Everyone tries to stay out of their range and not force them into a situation they would have to respond to. Such situations are uncomfortable for everyone. It seems that, at least to some extent, the police respect and understand the public’s needs as well—especially the needs of the area’s remaining tourists that live in hotel rooms without kitchens.
After juice, I head from my south side ‘hood to the north side of the lake. A friend of mine from Kathmandu lives on the north side. I want to say hi, make sure that he is well, and take home a bread from the Speakeasy cafe/bakery there. There are several police blocking the main street. They don’t want citizens to be wandering any further than necessary to get essentials and so have set a blockade to cut Lakeside Road in half right at its center point. I slide around the blockage through a back street and then a side alley with the stealth of a smuggler on a pirate ship in a Jimmy Buffett song. I meet up with my friend in the alley. We have breakfast behind the closed sheet metal door of the nearby café. I buy a bread, then leave through the cafe’s back door. That rear exit feeds back into the alley and I retrace my steps home.
For dinner, a restaurant close to my hotel has a similar arrangement. I knock on the window. The manager slides it open. A waiter takes my order and the window closes again. I move away to a nearby stairway while they cook where I’m sheltered from street view by a giant tree. When dinner is cooked and bagged, I slide money through the re-opened window, grab the bag and hide it in my little backpack. Myself and the waiter both smile, nod, and say thank you. I head home to enjoy dinner. No one has been put at risk. I get to eat. The restaurant employees and their families get to eat too.
No one knows what the future holds for humanity. Our history runs from mass murder to divine benevolence. Our most extreme participants have ranged from Stalin, Cheney, and Pol Pot to Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama. But I have to think that if confused residents and business folk that are functionally under house arrest in a small tourist city without tourist traffic, in a third world country that has limited resources even under the best of circumstances and now suffers closed borders in addition to its closed businesses, under what may be the most bizarre and debilitating conditions our planet as a unit has ever seen, can figure out ways to keep most of the population fed and at least part of it employed while not doing any harm, then there is certainly reason to believe that we can fix everything that is broken.
The Pokhara story continues in the weeks to come.
“If you need a sign to remind you to laugh, are you alright?” Sara Schaefer
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Many thanks to our wonderful friends at Pema Boutique Hotel for their help and support. ***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Entertaining TV/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
***If you missed the Introduction to the new book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier, or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story—and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!