How strange is that? I think it is a bit odd but that’s OK.
Sometimes I wake up and think everything is a bit odd. Even waking up!
But apparently the nerds that fix stuff need blogs to talk with other nerds who fix stuff, and they won the battle against the nerds who block stuff. G-mail is still blocked so I won’t get responses to this. And frankly I don’t have a whole lot of time to look either.
In recent news, I finished reading “When listening comes alive.” It was another one of those books that started reading like a sales pitch. For some reason I just don’t care for that approach. But I think it has some redeeming qualities if you’re interested in how our ears effect our learning process.
Below is what I typed out when there were operational lulls or I just felt the need to get something down. I think it is mostly boring stuff, but that probably describes most of this blog.
Gunny’s Log 20100205
First time I’ve had a chance to write in a while,
Be advised I won’t be able to respond to comments.
But I thought it would be good to capture some “Float Notes” while I had a chance to sit down.
1. It is good to be a Gunny.
(a) The chiefs mess, I can get a bite to eat, relax in the lounge, pretty much when ever I want.
(b) People come to get my laundry twice a week, people get out of my way in passageways.
(c) When I ask for something someone usually puts some effort into getting it.
(d) Head of the line privileges at the ship’s store.
2. It sucks to be a Gunny.
(a) Someone is always knocking on my door or calling. (This has pretty much stopped now that everyone is off the ship).
(b) Everybody needs something and it is always an emergency. (This has pretty much stopped now that everyone is off the ship).
(c) While putting out everyone else’s fires I’m expected to stand watch and also take care of my own job specific taskers.
(d) I count myself fortunate if I get more than four hours of sleep a night. (See “Acceleration Chamber” below)
(a) Making time for sitting quietly is a challenge.
(b) A half hour without interruption; nearly impossible.
(c) Sitting in rough sea conditions, interesting.
(d) Sitting with the legs crossed in full lotus, not so much.
(e) Sitting on a chair, yes, in small intervals, whenever I get a chance between dealing with the next crisis.
(a) I was told I’d get a chance to relax once I got on ship, this has not happened. I didn’t really buy off on that anyway.
(b) I thought at this level I‘d get the help I need. Maybe I do but I don’t always get the help I want.
(a) I have been experiencing elevated stress levels since getting to this command.
(b) While I’m making progress at chipping away at the external stressors (not so much the internal ones caused by my own reptilian faults) it is a grueling process and I keep finding things that are not in line with the way they are supposed to be. Yeah, that sounds like a perfect example of Dhukka.
(c) It would be easier if I were not attached to things being correct, but in my job you kind of have to make sure things are correct because a lot of people arte depending on it.
(d) It would be easier if people weren’t depending on me. But then I wouldn’t have a job, couldn’t support my family, etc. Monastic life sounds pretty good.
(e) I went to the ships gym this morning. That seemed to provide some temporary relief.
(f) Lacking sleep, living in close quarters with 3000 other people all under considerable stress, yeah I got a cold. That’s not helping.
The Acceleration Chamber.
If you have never lived aboard a warship, you are not missing much. A monastery has more fluctuation in their daily routine than we do, this can make life pretty tedious as you may imagine. Add on to that the tedious nature of my job and throw on top of that the incredible heavy lode of tediousness I have at this particular command and you may see why zazen alone may not be enough to get me through the days.
So a couple of days a week I enter the acceleration chamber. Note these are days of the week when due to the rest of the world being off of work I can’t get much done anyway. But I break up my usual routine of about five hours of sleep and jump into the 7x2’ space I have all to myself and hibernate. This can be challenging due to all the bells and whistles and knocking and banging and other loud noises sleep normally gets interrupted with on the ship but it can be done. So how the acceleration chamber works is you just crawl in, lay down,. And when you get out it is 12 hours later. Now you don’t have to limit yourself to 12 hours though. Some of my shipmates don’t seem to have a job aboard ship and seem to stay in the acceleration chamber most of the time. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury.
Anyway the scuttlebutt says their about to call general quarters, so I got to sign off and get down to the acceleration chamber for a quick hop through time and space until the Navy says its ok for us to heave out again.
On the last few pages of Taigen Daniel Leighton and Shohaku Okumura’s translation of the Eihei Shingi. I can’t vouch for the translation itself but I definitely enjoy reading Master Dogen. Down in the birthing I have a couple of more books, an approach to Zen, an older one from Old Kodo Sawaki’s Dharma heir whos name escapes me at this point, and when listening comes alive which was recommended by someone I’ve never met, but consider a friend. If I get through all that I still got the Shobogenzo electronically to fall back on, and I just ordered Red Pine’s translation of the Diamond Sutra from Amazon, which may not catch up to me until I get back to shore if Amazon ships it at all, which was a problem last time I ordered something from them.
In other news, The South China Sea has a lot of trash floating around in it.
The Navy is really particular about the dumping of trash. So it’s kind of weird to see so much garbage floating around in the middle of nowhere.
Oh well, time to get back in the acceleration chamber.
I saw a sandal floating in the ocean, I instantly thought of Bodhidharma.
There are no Buddhist services offered aboard the Essex. I am conflicted on weather I should step up to the plate. I’m not really trained to offer services. The best I might be able to do is talk a bit about my own experiences with Zazen. But I feel a little guilty none the less. The Navy has a number of sailors who are from Asian countries and there is some chance that they might appreciate some form of Buddhist services.
Than again they are more likely to be from the Pureland school, which I know nothing about. Still, it seems regrettable that they are not supported here.
Thailand, specifically Pattya Beach. Now I have seen it. I noticed such an interesting clash of wealth and poverty. I did not opt into any of the tours this trip due to financial concerns of my own, the house has not yet “Closed” and I am still due to make another payment next month. Chances are I will be on better footing next year and I think I would like to do a temple tour if it is made available to me next year.
What is it about the Shobogenzo that keeps drawing me back to it? I don’t know. The more I read it the more the words just seem like common sense, which is probably uncommon since most of the books seemed like jibberish to me the first time through. There are still parts that I read and just can’t quite discern yet though. I don’t have a hard copy of the Shobogenzo with me this time so I’ve ordered some more books (The Surangama Sutra, The Platform Sutra, The Vimalakirti Sutra) from Amazon but there is no telling when they will catch up to me. It might be nice to have a book to bring with me when I am sitting on “Watch.” My watch consists of watching the other watches, who mostly don’t need watching. So having a book on those occasions would be handy. Besides, I might enjoy the (Awkward?) conversations that come along when people ask me about the books. “Gunny, what’s that about? I don’t know.”
Singapore, Wow what a City/Country/Island! I have never seen so much materialism in such a tiny space. But I got to say I had an enjoyable port visit there. Even had a few minutes of free wifi before it got locked down… They say nothing in Singapore is free. I believe it. Although the exchange rate is pretty good it is off set by the high cost of goods. I did manage to get some souvenirs for the family though I did spend way too much money there. Although that might be ok because it may have been our last port call on this float due to the Philippine Government not wanting us to take liberty in Manila as they don’t want it appear like we are influencing their elections. Oh well.