The Cherry On Top Of The Fruitcake

Hello from Kathmandu! I hope you are happy and healthy.    

 It may not surprise you to learn that I am considered just a bit unusual or even strange in certain parts of the world, and very strange or even bizarre in some other places. Thailand is one of those places.     

This week’s eight hundred or so words is from the book Reincarnation Through Common Sense, and is about a half year spent simultaneously in heaven and hell. I was living in a small Buddhist monastery/nunnery in extremely rural southern Thailand. The hosts that rescued and cared for me accounted for most of the heaven part. As is true for so many folks, the thoughts bouncing around in my skull accounted for much of the hell part.      

What my robed hosts thought to be the most fun during this experience was that I already knew how to laugh in hell.       They taught me how to get out.                                    

Thanks for reading and clicking. Be well. Love, Tenzin   “The most revolutionary act that a person in this country can perform is to be happy.” Patch Adams         ***p.s. As always, if you find these weekly bits bothersome, let me know and I’ll stop sending them to you. If you find the reading at all enjoyable, please—it literally takes only seconds—click one or more or all of the highlighted backlinks following this paragraph. This simple process is completely without risk, cost, or difficulty. All it does is bring you to the site that is highlighted. Each click is a big help in pushing Fearless Puppy up in the Google rankings. Whether you browse the sites or close the windows immediately, your help has been delivered. Thank you!

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The Cherry on Top of the Fruitcake          

Many tourists act a little wilder while on vacation in a foreign country than they do at home. This is even more pronounced in Thailand where there are so very many opportunities to do the wild-and-crazy. The locals around here are usually very tolerant of tourist behavior, but they talk about you. This is true anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Thailand, Paris, or at the North Pole. If you are from out of town and a little different, at least a few of the locals are going to bust your chops. Gossip of this type happens whether you are wild and crazy or not.          

There may also be some finger pointing and giggling. Most of the finger pointing is just good-natured amazement, especially in a place like rural Southeast Asia where the locals find a zoom lens camera about as miraculous as we would find a working intergalactic starship with transporter beam. Mild shock about foreign customs or bafflement with advanced technologies is harmless. But those are not the topics here. The topic here is what to do when something that is actually malicious comes your way. This topic is headlined by the concept of (figuratively, of course) “staying in your own canoe.” It includes letting bad stuff that flies in one of your ears fly as quickly out the other. Remembering these two notions can be strong support beams for an unshakable perseverance in the face of adversity, insult, or even danger.           

In spite of heavy competition from my fellow travelers for the position as cherry on top of the international fruitcake, I have become known in southern Thailand as “THE Crazy Alien.” Most of my fellow non-locals who get any special attention from the natives are simply drunk, loud, and usually between 20 and 40 years old. The locals expect this. But when they see an American person who is a bit older, they suppose that he is like the Americans they see on TV. So when they look at me, they see something that falls very far out of their frame of reference. Here is a person they cannot explain. He is not at all normal.            

He is living in a Buddhist Temple on a foreign continent without studying Buddhism. He cannot communicate in or understand the native language. No one within miles speaks English. He has no money at all, has no home waiting for him anywhere and no way to get there if he did. And he is writing a book about a culture and religion that he is slowly learning very little about. When the book is finished, he has plans to get back to America somehow and (with no business connections or related experience at all) sell novice writing for lots of money. He will then donate all the money to build combination educational/spiritual resorts that are entertaining destinations for guests. The main purpose of these resorts (even more so than benefitting seekers and guests) will be to perpetually return huge profits that will fund an increase in the number of Wisdom Teachers in the world. The purpose of that increase is to help, to as great an extent as possible, alleviate suffering in human beings and in all other living creatures affected by humans. His long-term goal is to build enough of these resorts to acquire enough profits to make it financially possible to increase the total number of Wisdom Professionals in the world by one percent.
Logic dictates that the odds of his success may be roughly the same as the odds of one person winning a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot prize twice in the same week.            

The Head Teacher and most respected member of this rural Thai community has given all the compassion of Mother Teresa to the foreign lunatic, including hospitality and privileges usually afforded only to people wearing robes. The American cherry-on-top-of-the-fruitcake person works on the writing in his isolated cabin with the intensity and introspection of a lone monk, taking occasional breaks to hang out in silence with the real monks and nuns. He writes with pens found on the street, on napkins and scrap paper scavenged from the nearest Internet cafe twenty miles away. He stops only once or twice a month in order to completely fall off the other end of life’s pendulum by acquiring massive doses of expense-free alcohol, ganja, and lodging from friends that manage fancy tourist resorts on the beaches near that Internet cafe. Even the folks living and working in the resort towns are not used to seeing behavior like this—not even from the most certifiably loony and highly medicated tourists. I must seem even more bizarre to those of my neighbors who have never been out of this two hundred resident hamlet adjoining the Temple grounds, and are unfamiliar with those tourists.
It is very lucky for me that Thai folks respect crazy more than Americans do.           

Sometimes I wonder exactly what they think of me—but not often.           

Every moment spent thinking about what other people are thinking about me is a moment I’m not thinking about what I actually need to be thinking about. It would surely suck to be on my deathbed watching someone else’s perceptions of my life flashing before my eyes.            

I don’t have the time to worry and wonder if other people think I’m nuts. I have books to write and Wisdom Teachers to sponsor.  But I do have a sense of logic. It is easy to see how what I’m doing might look strange to others. It is even easy to understand why some folks might think me a bonafide lunatic.            

Maybe I am one.           

But if you are reading this, maybe I’m not.

Many thanks to the friends of Fearless Puppy at the Pema Boutique Hotel for their wonderful 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!

Why The Monks And Nuns Are The Way They Are

I hope you are happy and healthy and enjoying what seems to be a bit of recent improvement in conditions. If we want our conditions to improve more consistently in the future, taking some tips from the monks and nuns will be very helpful. How do you feel about maintaining a confidence and security that enable you to always look at life on Earth as a friend that you are traveling with, and never as a threat to be defended against? How do you like the idea of having an internally generated sense of well-being and happiness that is immune to assault by external circumstances? How about the notion of being a consistently kind and caring person to yourself as well as others—and eliminating doubt, fear, compulsive behavior, guilt, envy/jealousy, and anger from your life?                     
        Yep! That all sounds good to me too. That’s why I think the two chapters from the book Reincarnation Through Common Sense that are entitled, “Why The Monks And Nuns Are The Way They Are—Parts 1 and 2” contain some of the most important things I have ever observed and written about. These chapters total 17 pages and there are another 8 pages about similarities between the system in southeast Asia and the system from Tibet. But with due respect to the short attention span world that we live in, I will post excerpts that contain only @ 1000 words. The first of these is below. The second will follow next week. If you are interested in the rest, it can be found in the book. More party-heavy, less esoteric excerpts from all three books will appear online in the following weeks.       
         I am damn sure not going to become a monk and I doubt that anyone who reads this is going to become a monk or nun either. But there are a lot of things monks and nuns do full-time that, if adopted even very part-time by us regular humans, can turn a hellish life into a decent one and a decent life into a more heavenly one.    Be well. Love, Tenzin    
***p.s. As always, if you find these weekly bits bothersome, let me know and I’ll stop sending them to you. If you find the reading at all enjoyable, please—it literally takes only seconds—tap one or more or all of the highlighted backlinks following this paragraph. This simple process is completely without risk, cost, or difficulty. All it does is bring you to the site that is highlighted. Each click is a big help in pushing Fearless Puppy up in the Google rankings. Whether you browse the sites or close the windows immediately, your help has been delivered. Thank you! FEARLESS PUPPY WEBSITE BLOG 

FEARLESS PUPPY ON AMERICAN ROAD/AMAZON PAGE

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Why The Monks And Nuns Are The Way They Are—Part 1                                                                                                  
                                                                                        THE BIG BRAIN THING

“In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should not be on concentration, but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers.” J. Krishnamurti      
         The locals visit our Temple often. Some come on to the grounds screaming, crying, angry, depressed, or otherwise agitated. After a half-hour of talking with our Wisdom Professionals, the formerly forlorn usually leave smiling. Why do so many people come here to see the robe wearers, and why do all these visitors leave feeling so much better than they did upon arrival? Why are the residents of this Temple so much fun to be around? What makes the Monks and Nuns who they are? There must be some reasons I’ll never know, but a few are obvious.      
          The first is The Big Brain thing, and the team spirit it entails. The second is reincarnation—but this is certainly not the kind of reincarnation you are used to hearing about. These two factors meet at so many crossroads that it can often be hard to separate them, but let’s try to talk about one at a time, beginning with The Big Brain thing.       
          Everybody’s got a brain and a mind. Many people consider these to be different words for the same thing. Technically, the brain is just a biological organ while the mind is something deeper and more inclusive. But in case it makes you more comfortable to do so, we will use these words interchangeably here. It won’t hurt anything. The words soul or spirit might be more accurate, and consciousness is actually what we’re talking about—but some folks think of these terms as abstractions. We can use the more familiar words “mind” and “brain” for now. Many people seem to find those terms more familiar and easier to understand.      
          It is widely known that any human uses only a small percentage of his or her mind/brain at any given time. Exactly how much gets used and what those percentages pay attention to have always been very important matters.       
         The Monks and Nuns believe that each individual carries a deep responsibility to focus the greatest possible percentage of their mental facility on the best, kindest, most loving, and most wisdom-heavy attitudes and functions they can produce. Fulfilling this responsibility is not optional but mandatory for them, as it probably should be for all of us. They recognize this responsibility as a necessity because it affects individual, familial, societal, and planetary relationships—as well as our survival as individuals and as a species.       
         Directing the use of our minds toward constructive positive ends is not an esoteric or saintly activity to be practiced only by cloistered Wisdom Professionals. It is a very practical and logical activity that can influence every human’s personal life. Material and emotional satisfaction are most comfortably born from a base of mental satisfaction. Happy and compassionate people feel prosperous, regardless of financial income. They don’t often steal from or kill each other.       
         Whether conscious of it or not, we always think of an action before we do it. There are big advantages to thinking consciously. The residents here know that any action should be avoided if it doesn’t help and that blind emotions bubbling up unrecognized from subconscious depths lead many folks into destructive actions. There are no blind emotions here. By quieting their own mental turbulence, these robed folks clearly see what they are thinking, and then steer it. Everything they do is done on purpose. Nothing gets away from them.       
         The sub/unconscious type of thought, and the actions resulting from it, are usually fueled by instinctive reactions or habitually programmed mental-reflex reactions. These are all too often based on the memory of past trauma or fear of the unknown future.       
         The most basic sub/unconscious thoughts are survival instincts and callous self-interest—animal reflexes. All of us live partially under the direction of such instincts. Our DNA has carried these instincts since caveman days. They are a physiological part of us. They cannot immediately be erased, but with proper attention the nastier parts can be transcended.       
         Our subconscious minds have inherited yet another batch of characteristics and instincts through the training and information we have been given by schools, churches, parents, governments, TV/media, and so on. These are the conditioned reflexes, the behavioral patterns we have observed and absorbed since birth.        
         These biological and historical patterns coexist as what can be called “the little brain.” A lot of human actions can more accurately be called knee jerk reactions. The subconscious mind has such an entrenched pre-recorded program of how-to-be and what-to-do in it that we often react to situations without giving any thought at all to our reaction. Many people spend most of their lives controlled by mental patterns that they are not even aware of.        
         But we have all floated into The Big Brain Thing on occasion. When you and a lover feel like one body, when you feel your child’s pain as if it is your own, when you display “superhuman” physical strength/perseverance/clarity of thought in an emergency situation—at these times we go beyond so-called normal human parameters of feeling and function. We wander semi-consciously into Big Brain mode.        
         The Monks and Nuns live there. Their conscious focus is on the mind and life that we all share in our involuntary coexistence with all other creatures—animal, human, and divine. They are of the opinion that the similarities and relationships between us all are more deserving of attention than the differences. They believe that the mutually beneficial goals that this Big Brained point of view dictates outweigh personal goals in importance.       
         Oddly enough, it often turns out that personal goals are much more easily attained when universal goals are given priority!       
         The concept that all of humanity shares a mutual existence and sort of a universal mind containing great power that properly trained individuals can tap into, somewhat resembles Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious theory—except with the Temple folks it is conscious, the idea had already been around for several thousand years before the great Mr. Jung was born, and it is considered fact, not theory.        
         The drop/ocean metaphor is often used to explain it. Most of us think of ourselves as an individual drop of humanity. The people here in the Temple think of themselves as an integral part of a vast ocean that contains all living things. Both views have some truth in them. This “ocean attitude” may seem a little esoteric or even a bit weird to many of us, but it has advantages. All individual problems and personal pains recede somewhat when you pay attention to the bigger picture. The freedom and security that the power of an all-inclusive ocean offers are much greater than the freedom and security available to a single drop of water, or a singular human.         
         Like most of us, the Temple residents have good intentions. But they are more committed and loyal to those intentions than most of us are to ours. They make that commitment functional by donating their motivation for achievement toward improving life for all of their fellow-creatures, as well as for themselves. They constantly work on improving their little drop (self), but that process is always based on how their drop can become a better drop in order to become part of a better ocean (how improving their lives can improve all lives). They are dancing on their own legs, but a much bigger force than any individual is always playing the tune. All ways.       
         To put it another way, these Wisdom Professionals have trained their little brains very thoroughly in the concern for all little brains. This keeps them tuned to the same wavelength as that bigger force that both contains and is concerned with the well being of all the little brains—The Big Brain. They have, through dedication and strong effort, actually become a conscious cell in and therefore a bit of a co-creating partner with The Big Brain. Call it God, or Dharma, or The Force, or the Collective Unconscious, or the Unified Field. Whatever you would call an all-inclusive divine resource, they are now part of it. Perhaps we all are, anyway! But they are aware enough of their inclusion in the bigger system, and practiced enough in that system’s processes, to be able to direct themselves to coordinate with it. They consistently, consciously practice moving their minds in an internal direction that benefits everything external as much as possible. Loyalties and actions are at least as concerned with the ocean at large as they are with their own individual drop. This affiliation with the Big Brain governs the lives of the Nuns and Monks and all the choices they make. It directs them as surely as any commander directs his or her troops.

***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!