Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Buddhist (Bookstore) Bootcamp, Part II

Dhr. Seven and Amber Dorrian, edited by Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
Catch Timber Hawkeye Thursday night (April 4, 2013) in Berkeley at Books Inc.
Aloha defined (
(See PART I) ...The danger in living in that joyful bubble is forgetting that other people do not live in that happy, positive, motivated world.

Buddhist Boot Camp author Timber Hawkeye found himself out of place in our media-saturated world after he abstained and detoxed from all negative, demotivating, fear-inspiring media. He was jarred from his blissful bubble when he traveled cross-country staying in people's houses along the way.

Hawkeye in Pasadena (WQ)
Again and again he was reminded that people did not live in that world. They lived in a world of their own creation, one full of self-inflicted suffering.

We blame others to our own detriment. "Who did this to me?!" we demand. To illustrate, Hawkeye tells a joke: A person went to the doctor complaining, "Every time I drink tea, my eye hurts." After a long time the doctor suggest, "Perhaps if you took the spoon out first?" Hmm. There's a thought. We hurt ourselves, often without realizing it until it is mirrored for us. What reason is there to blame others? Blaming others will not get us to relief or freedom from our predicament.

Going Zen
Zen Cartoons (Satajan/voiceofhappiness)
Realizing all of this, Hawkeye checked into a Zen Buddhist monastery. And is the habit of such places, everyone asks every newcomer, "How long you in for?" However long that may have been, he had no reason to leave -- enjoying the blissful peace of solitude and withdrawal -- no reason but one: His corporate friends were reduced to writing him on paper with stamps to tell them how much they missed his email updates.

After seven years, he had stopped writing and sending them with their beloved photo accompaniments. His friends insisted (and we're paraphrasing), "You gotta leave the temple! We need to hear from you because you're one of us but  you got out! We can't sell everything and move to Hawaii." These redacted emails became Buddhist Boot Camp.

Like a sabra, tough exterior concealing a soft sweet center, Hawkeye did not write it the way he was raised. It was meant to be militant. But what had made his emails so winning was that they were short (translated into one-page chapters) and un-rigid. When we are brought up in a rigid way, it may make us very rigid or, if we are wise, seeing the futility of that approach, we soften and encourage rather than harden further and make demands. Being demanding simply does not go over too well.

Kwan Yin looking out, "Buddha Point," Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hawaii (Brasesco/
What does this book say that we do not all already know? Hawkeye is not a teacher but a conveyor of timeless wisdom and encourage. It is the story of us all, and all that changes from author to author is how it is communicated. In Israel there is a saying: When they bomb the bus you're waiting for, what do you do?  That's right. You take the next one. That is, one grows accustomed to terrorism rather than being undone by each and every expression of it. One grows a tough exterior, but those prickles protect a tender center.

Zen priest, Tibetan lama Timber Hawkeye (WQ)
EXERCISE: Imagine the worst moment of your life. Look around to those imagining the same thing. Shoulders will droop. We begin to shut down, crippled by tension. Some may cry. We are reliving that memory. That is what we do. 
Now imagine the best moment of your life. Suddenly you may be sitting straighter yet more relaxed, more alert, more joyful, more open. You may even be smiling. Why?

The answer, Hawkeye explains, is in distinguishing feeling from emotion. We are responsible for our feeling. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," Eleanor Roosevelt famously said. Hawkeye adds, "No one can make you feel anything without your consent." Why? It is because an EMOTION is a feeling with a story attached to it. We keep it for years. We relive it (the changing memory of it rather than the experience itself). It is TOXIC to hang on to. Let go -- letting go is important.

Returning to the World
After a time, Hawkeye realized he was of no use to the outside world so long as he lived in the peaceful precincts of a Buddhist temple, which he loved doing. Was it selfish to stay for the sake of his own happiness and peace of mind?

Buddhism does not promote itself. It does not proselytize or push its views on others. It was not the Buddha's way. But Hawkeye's emails had been doing that. How could he return to doing that?

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