Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mena Coming Out

I have been sitting on my songwriting for as long as I have been sitting on The Dance of the Chi and my poetry. Now that the chi book has been published, I feel it’s time to also share the songs and poetry. However, I find I am not as ready as a singer-songwriter as I am as an author. Publishing books require me to write them and allow me to engage the services of vendors in the industry to get the books published. These are the cover designers, editors, and formatters. With songwriting, I have not been able to connect with compatible musicians to present the songs in the best possible light.

Just as with my energy arts manifestation, I have to wait for the right people to show up. While in waiting mode, I have decided to go ahead and share raw home video snippets that I have managed to edit with the help of a friend who was roped in to tutor me in putting my smartphone to good use. I’m sharing some videos now as my way of launching my YouTube channel on this Lunar New Year. I’m more nervous about sharing my music than I am about publishing books. With the books, I do the best I can and leave the rest to the Universe. I can’t help whether the books resonate with others or if they fill a need out there. With songwriting, I know I can do a lot better if I have someone who can accompany me on an instrument. As well, I also feel songs are supposed to be entertaining and I won't be making any difference with what I put out. It's just something I am doing to complete my bucket list. If people don't like my songs, at least I have shared them rather than regret not sharing them when I'm too old to do anything about them.

Over the years, I have had people come and go without much success due to incompatibilities. In my opinion and from experience, musicians aren’t generally a very spiritual lot. I find it difficult to hang out with them. I mean, I don’t do drugs (avoiding prescription and over the counter as well), alcohol, or cigarettes. I’m a germaphobe/health nut, an empath, and I don’t like crowded, (worse, if smoke-filled) places. An introvert by conditioning if not by nature, I don’t enjoy small talk. Sigh. Until I connect with that special someone, I shall remain nervous about the sharing of my music. I want to share when I comfortably know I have presented the songs as well as they can be presented. If you’re reading this and have some musical ability and interest to collaborate, please check out my video clips and see if we are musically compatible enough to work on a few songs together. I plan to share some short clips with lyrics any day now. If my music project doesn't take off, the teachers say it means I simply did not sign up for this before I was born. It is what it is. In my dreams, I play the piano extremely well. I believe that is from a past life. I haven't been able to tap into that lifetime's talent in this lifetime.

PS: I am willing to pay for services rendered.

My YouTube Channel:

Festivals, Celebrations, and Values

I don’t live my life by a calendar and today (Valentine’s Day) was spent at the seaside, as usual, playing Taiji. It was about 6 PM and there were more than the usual number of people there. I was determined to play the three sets as is my usual practice—the series 24, 88, and 42. If I play these well, the session lasts for about an hour. Otherwise, it would be over within 45 minutes. At the far end of the beach, I caught sight of a huge “LOVE” sign made up of individual letter blocks of the alphabets placed on the beach just in front of the waves. I thought that was a setting for a movie or a setting for a wedding photo shoot. Turns out, it was a couple celebrating Valentine’s Day by having a romantic dinner on the beach. They had put up a tent with the table, chairs, and dinner stuff all in place.

Then, I was distracted by a number of Chinese people, in family mode, carrying foam boxes to the beach. I wondered could they be the food caterers for the romantic “tent” couple? That is quite a lot of food for a couple, I thought. No. They placed the boxes on the sand far from the tent and then I thought they were going to have a picnic on the beach. No. They opened the boxes and started to bring a crab at a time to the water’s edge. They were sending the crabs back to the sea. I was taken by surprise and thought, wow, such a nice gesture and an act of compassion. The adults were setting a great example for the kids.

Further on the right of where I stood, I saw a couple of Buddhist monks in garb surrounded by what appeared like carloads of also Chinese people. The people were holding plastic bags and taking things out a handful at a time and throwing them into the sea. My curiosity got the better of me and when I had completed my Taiji play, I went to have some words with the monks. I asked what they were throwing into the sea. I couldn’t make out what the sea creatures were as they were very small. I was told they were clams. This group of people was rescuing clams from the market to throw back into the sea. I asked if they were doing that to celebrate their version of Valentine’s Day. The monks said it was just a coincidence it was Valentine’s Day. They belong to a temple nearby and these kinds of activities are performed regularly by the devotees. These kinds of action are thought to cultivate good karma for this lifetime and many lifetimes hereafter. I observed a handful of other races and people of seemingly other religious faiths not being impressed by what they were witnessing. It looked to them like food is food and people were throwing food into the sea. Ai. I have seen people laboring hours under the hot sun to gather enough clams to sell to the market in order to earn a living. Here, the Buddhist devotees are throwing these clams right back into the sea. This is an example of contradicting values and the controversies in our world. 

The head monk shared that they were vegetarians, not vegans. I asked what sect of Buddhism they were and he said “Mahayana.” We chatted about the Thai Buddhist sect (Theravada) who has to eat anything devotees offer during their daily alms. This sect of monks could eat meat. He said the devotees would be schooled about what NOT to offer the monks. For example, alcohol. 

I was told the monks at the temple nearby where I play my Taiji were initially taught Shaolin Kung Fu but they had all forgotten the discipline through lack of practice. They also were taught Taijiquan but had neglected all these over time. I was reminded of how I had also neglected to practice for more than 20 years while busy with stray rescue work. I was lucky I could refresh my memory with the help of a local Taiji master and also with the help of YouTube videos. Regular practice is so important for muscle and other memory. As with any skill, the more we do, the better we get at it.

I also took the opportunity to tap the monks’ belief system. I told the head monk that I believe we are all energy and since energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, that I had to believe our souls/spirits/consciousness are eternal. I shared that I had encountered another belief system on the internet forums which said that eternity is not guaranteed. It said that if one does not engage in active soul-making lifetime after lifetime, one could be diminished to a state of nothingness eventually, reminiscent of Toltec Shamanism beliefs. I wanted to know what the head monk thought. He said there is no state of nothingness. Even if humans keep doing bad things lifetime after lifetime, incurring bad karma lifetime after lifetime, they would still have some kind of form, like the clams they threw back into the sea. These clams would be brought to the temple first and prayers would be said for them and they would be made to listen to the Buddhist dharma so that their consciousness could be given a lift and they would stand a chance of a better life next time. The head monk said, every living thing can and should be given a chance at a better next lifetime and we help them by uplifting their consciousness. I couldn't help recalling what I recently read about this being equal to someone dying of hunger being helped by the recitation of a recipe. Oy.

I remember this from a recent social media post:
In our practice of Shikantaza we do not seek for anything because when we seek for something, an idea of self is involved. Then we try to achieve something to further the idea of self. That is what you are doing when you make some effort, but our effort is to get rid of self-centered activity. That is how we purify our experience. — Shunryu Suzuki, Letters from Emptiness

Someone wiser than me once said: “If the ideal of unconditional love is to be valued, we won’t find it in the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn’t arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. If people are obedient to their faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from their lives. They probably don’t even know what real compassion feels like. The more we collectively abandon all religion, the better off this planet will be. This doesn’t mean we have to abandon all spiritual pursuits. It just means we must stop turning spirituality into something it isn’t.”

I end this sharing by wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year of the Dog. Woof!