Brain Dump [updated]

The following post is just what has been bubbling up in my brain housing group lately.


OK. I have too much on my mind right now. I am hoping a journal post will help me sort through it.

Just finished up COM 140 and GEN 105 last week. My final grade has posted for COM 140 as an A-. It has not posted for GEN 105 yet but I expect about the same. [update: I did indeed get an A- in Gen 105]

I am aware through the process of going through school that I am consistently underestimating myself. I find I get into the end-gaining mindset which at least for me is counter productive. What I mean by that is that if I over think an assignment and cause myself stress because of it, the work turns out to be of lower quality. However; if I just throw some stuff out there that hits the wickets of what the assignment is asking for, I do well.

Next round of classes starts in October. The classes are Critical thinking and Effective Essay writing.
My wife says I am already too critical.

I signed what will likely be my last contract with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. I received a bonus for the first time in my 17 years of service. It was not huge, but combine with the sale of 30 vacation days it was enough to eliminate my entire credit card debit and allow for a little frivolous spending that felt needed. I am still concerned that we are not living within our means. There are a lot of services we pay for that we could be without but don't want to: Cable, Netflix, the wife’s gym membership, Cell Phones and I am probably leaving out something but you get the point.
We are also making plans to do some maintenance on the house. Some will be contracted, a lot we will try and do ourselves and hire a contractor to fix if we screw it up too much. If I knew I was staying here this would not be much of a concern but with the end of my Career eminent, I am going to have to eek out employment somewhere, and it will most likely not be here, so I will have to sell this house in a tough market. I really do like it here, so if anyone in the Vancouver USA area needs to pay someone 70K (That’s a lot more than I make right now, but I need the raise, and that is around what my civilian counterpart's start off at) a year to keep their stuff locked up three years from now, let me know, I’m your man.

There is so much interconnected to the money issue that I can not really fathom it in its entirety. I just try to tackle little bits and pieces as I am able to.

I realize also that according to recent polling efforts I saw in a magazine somewhere (Tricycle?) I am in the minority of Buddhists in America being that I do not fall into the upper middle class and up tax bracket. Yes my dear readers; I am so poor that I get more back in taxes than I pay in, sorry for being a burden on all you rich folks.

Since I upgraded my ipod from a first gen 1 gig Nano (See Bonus above, I got an iphone, that is way too excessive [and expensive] for me, but I love it) I have started listening to a lot of podcasts. One that I have been enjoying is “the 12 step Buddhist” but something he said has been sticking like a plank in my eye and I was having difficulty seeing past it. The offending sound byte was “I need a Guru.” I think I threw up a little in the back of my throat when I heard that. (Be advised, context omitted.)

Now, when I have such an adverse reaction to something I feel it is important to do some introspection on the subject. The idea of a guru is one that gets pretty lambasted here on the interwebs and with some good reasons. People get taken advantage of by so called spiritual experts and they should be scrutinized. On the other hand there are some things in that same realm (and what I think the 12 step Buddhist was referring to) that are really, really worthwhile. The first is fellowship. In buddhisty language you might refer to this as a sangha. Although this is also referred to as a community, for my purposes I think fellowship is at the heart of the mater. I have been a part of a few “Sangha” both physical and on the net but there is a few things that keep them from being satisfactory. For the physical Sangha, I barely get to go because of distance and there are also some minor (meaning I can live with the differences) internal policy issues that I am not comfortable with. On the net, while I think it is a great supplement and works fine in a pinch, there is the element of sitting with a real person that is notably missing.

The other thing is mentoring. I am fine with the idea of mentoring. Even though it might just in reality be a different way of “Feeling” about a guru. I have been mentoring Marines since ancient times or at least since I was a young Corporal and put into a leadership position fifteen some years ago. I’m salty. In the Marines being salty can sometimes mean you have been around for a while and nobody can tell you Sh*t. So this; coupled with the number of frauds out there, could be another place where my resistance to a “Guru” could be coming from.

So, in conclusion, I guess I should say that I have been practicing Buddhism for just one small moment and that if I can learn from a child of three, I will honor that teaching, and if I can teach to a 70 year old, I will honor that teaching. Meanwhile, if you’re a Buddhist or interested in Buddhism in or around the 98662 zip code and feel the need, like I do, for fellowship, please come by for tea sometime.

My wife and I are blessed with some good friends that are kind enough to drop off little gifts of Sencha tea from time to time. My senses have become pretty involved with Sencha tea. I have discovered that I can tell that some teas labeled Sencha are not always the same as others. The current Tea I have at the house has a different taste than the tea I have at the office. When I first drank it I probably made a bad face. The company that made it, in an effort to preserve the tea, put something in their tea to make it “fresh” longer. This affects the taste. I have found that some teas are best brewed with water around 140 degrees. Teas that have had some additives can be made more palatable by using water that is around 195 degrees. Anyway, thank you for the tea! I am grateful!

Rakusu: I am about to start sewing a new Rakusu (Mini Buddist Robe) as part of the ongoing online “Jukai” (Buddhist ordination, maybe a bit like being baptized in xtian circles) classes over at the Treeleaf Sangha.
I have no Idea what I am doing when it comes to sewing. So far all I have done is gotten some material (a dark saffron reddish color) I am going to have to try and work on it, without expectation or a goal in mind. This will be an interesting addition to my practice.

Flute: Ack, I have not been playing much lately. Can someone add a few hours to the day please? Or even better, stop by and ask me to play.

Oh, I got so much work to do, maybe now I can get back at it.

Be well, and happy!



Mumon K said...

For the physical Sangha, I barely get to go because of distance and there are also some minor (meaning I can live with the differences) internal policy issues that I am not comfortable with.

The issue of sanghas in the Vancouver WA/Portland OR area is one in which I'm familiar; it's a subject of a long discussion that bears posting over at my site.

This is relevant especially given the fact that I recently waded into the Genpo Merzel/Brad Warner controversy, and by degrees of separation that gets back to you.

Anyway, there's a reason I train where I do, and it's taken me too long to realize that though I have differences with some local sanghas, it won't inhibit dialog.

All that said, it's amazing how many temples are in the Portland/Vancouver/Gresham/Skamania area.

SlowZen said...


The only thing I have seen in Vancouver was with the UU. Not much detail available online as far as I could see. Maybe I am not looking hard enough.

I saw the Genpo debate on Brad's blog. Whenever I see a video of Brad, I can't help but think I would have stuffed him in his own locker were we in school together. All the evil Karma from ancient times...

Anyway, I really enjoyed his books.

Mumon K said...


I bet you would have stuffed him in is locker...I'd have helped you with your homework, but you'd not've hung out with me either.

I haven't read Warner's books, frankly, as I've said to me a lot of this is gimmicky, especially when I read Hakuin or Suzuki Shosan, or yes, Dogen himself.

But Warner's been spot on about this whole "enlightenment" thing, and the Genpo thing (how come it's not Gempo? )for sure.

Anyway, Portland Buddhist Hub will point to several temples in the area, although the one I go to is in the Gorge.

SlowZen said...

The george is waaaaay to far for me. HA! I want a place to practice in my back yard. or at least on my block. I looked at the hub. there is a Vietnamese Buddhist center on 18th st. still pretty far from me here in the orchards area. I will probably not check it out though.

I can't believe you go out to the gorge.

As to you helping me with my homework... Homework? what is that? it was all about the next party/concert/ thing to do/ form of distraction/ girls/ whatever. In those days I was much more a human doing than a humin being. (Stole that one from Depac Chopra)

As to not meeting you. the invite is open, please excuse our mess.

Barry said...

After 18 years in the world of organized Zen, I've spent the last two disorganized. Not better or worse, just...no Zen teacher, no (local) organization.

But I do respect the importance of teachers and I continue to work with one (not a traditional Zen teacher).

My teachers have consistently held open "doors" and have invited me to walk into a new room. Sometimes I go through the door, other times I run away.

But I know one thing for certain -- I would not open most of these doors by myself. I need teachers to nudge, shove, encourage, threaten, and sweet talk me through this.

The teacher can be my daughter or wife, a Zen teacher, a friend, or almost anyone. My job is to stay awake to the possibility of learning something about myself.

Which, most of the time, I'm not very interested in doing, if I were honest. Which sometimes I am.

SlowZen said...


The teacher can be my daughter or wife, a Zen teacher, a friend, or almost anyone. My job is to stay awake to the possibility of learning something about myself.

I meet them everywhere, or so the poem goes.

Carol said...

Hi Jordan,

I loved this post! But I do hope that someone from Texas takes you up on a job offer!

I want to see my granddaughters more often than just twice a year!!



SlowZen said...

That would be wonderful!
We'll see.


Harry said...


SlowZen said...


Anonymous said...

If you read the blog article, Getting Naked with the Guru on my website, you'll understand more of the reference I made in the podcast.


Darren Littlejohn

SlowZen said...

Thanks Darren,
I appreciate your efforts!


Thanks for looking!