ariz3260 / Member

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Tao (The Way)

Saw a nice little story in that I like to share (see here for the full article):

(disclaimer: this is not meant to be taken literally)

A tiny village in China wassuffering fromthe most severe drought anyone there could ever recall. There had not been a drop of rain for many months in an environment that depended on regular rainfall for its survival. The crops were dying. There was little food left. The water supply was running dangerously low. Dust flew everywhere, making it difficult for residents to breath. Death hung in the air. All manner of traditional rituals, ceremoniesand petitionary prayers were attempted in hopes of driving away any evil demons or negative spirits and ending the devastating drought. But, despite their best efforts, no rain came. Desperate, the village elder decided to send for professional assistance from a far away province: a renowned rainmaker. Upon arriving, the old, wizened rainmaker requested something very strange. He directed the villagers to construct a small straw hut just outside the village itself, to bring him enough food and water to last for five days, and to then leave him there alone, solitary, absolutely undisturbed. Not sure what to think, the frightened villagers did exactly as he said, and anxiously waited. Nothing happened. Three days passed uneventfully. But on the fourth day, dark clouds suddenly appeared. And it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Ecstatic, grateful, yet totally mystified, the relieved villagers gathered round the rainmaker wanting to know how he had done it. He humbly and enigmatically explained: " I am not responsible for making the rain. When I first arrived in your village, it felt discordant, disharmonious, unbalanced, disturbed. And I felt out of sorts with myself. All I did was take time to get back in alignment with myself, into attunement with the Tao. Nature did the rest."

Path to Religiosity

I was going to bump an old topic I saw from Joao_22990 about why people believe what they believe, but ultimately decided it is better suited for a blog. Special thanks to Joao_22990 for giving me a reason to reflect on my experience :D

**************************************************************************************************************************************** I would say I am a lay-Buddhist, as in opposed to a hard-core one. I was born in Hong Kong and Buddhism is a very well-received religion over there, though as I was growing up I found myself question the practice of many self-proclaimed Buddhists. For example, when there is a religious holiday it is common practice for people to bring up offerings to the Buddhist temples and worship through prayers. I understand people led busy lives and it is difficult to practice religion in a place such as Hong Kong, but I thought the way most folks go about it were, quite honestly, incorrect with what little I understand of Buddhism. Buddhism, in China, generally practices vegetarianism. When people place their offerings to the deities (sorry for the lack of a better word) often I see there's roast ducks, roast pigs and a whole variety of meat-base dish. At the time I thought to myself, Isn't that against Buddhist's belief? When people are praying to the deities figures in Buddhism, they are really not praying but instead, ask these deities figures help them to achieve some goals in life. Things such as winning the lottery, good health, getting promotions, get married with the perfect guy/lady, have babies, get good grades at school... etc. I mean, really, that is literally asking for blessing from these deities and how is that a prayer? That is really borderline paganism at best. Does anyone really understand what Buddhism stands for? How would one make a proper prayer to the deities? Different Buddha or Bodhisattva have different meanings and for people who choose different paths of achieving enlightenment, what are those differences and how to choose among them? I certainly didn't know anything, and I highly doubt there were many people who did either. I was always curious about Buddhism but never really turn my curiosity into a motivation to study it.

Later I acquired some books about Buddhism. I agreed with mostly what these books said, but all they did essentially were just to tell people "do good and avoid bad deeds" and something about Karma while completely neglect what Buddhism essentially is. I am not bashing these literature and I am sure the intentions behind them were for good. However, I can't help but think that such literature will further add to the mystery of Buddhism, instead of debunking common misconceptions about it. If the goal of Buddhism is to achieve Nirvana, mere teachings of "do good and avoid bad" might be insufficient in that regard.

At this point I am still trying to learn more about the religion, from what I learned so far it makes sense to me on an intellectual level. For example, the concept of impermanence makes perfect sense to me. Let's say I bought a new game today and I am completely euphoric about and wish I can play it all day,everyday , and pretty much forget about everything else. Is that realistic? It doesn't matter how good a game it is, there will come a point in which I will get tired of it and look for something new, something more exciting. Take this and apply it to everything else we know of, what inanimate object or human emotion can stay in the same condition forever and never changing? Love? Lust? Happy? Sad? Object wise, water? Fire? Air? Closest thing I could think of is diamond, but for it to exist in the first place there has got to be a process in which it was created. It could exist for a long time, but since it has a point of creation its existence is certainly finite. As of now I couldn't think of anything that has always been, and will always be.

Having established the concept of impermanence, it is logical to conclude that having an attachment to anything, be it material objects or emotions, could lead to sufferings. Let's talk love, for example. When we see someone we are infatuated with, we literally feel butterflies in our stomach and couldn't quite control it. Then we get to know that person and been out on a few dates, though that butterflies feeling is still there I would say at this point it is less severe, and happiness is probably a more appropriate term for this stage. Fast forward to two people getting married, many would agree their love is at its peak, while the couple is very happy together, they also have a strong sense of hope and are definitely looking toward time spend together from here on out. Once they settled down and the honeymoon phrase is over, love is being put on the back-burner and life is fill with mundane task such as when to do the laundry and clean the house and how much to spend on groceries and paid the mortgages and bills... you get the idea. When the couple has kids, their lives are pretty much dedicated to the little creature for a long while. All romance between the couple has gone out the window and, besides all of the daily chores, now you have to make room for the baby. Life goes on so on and so forth. The point is, even the couple still "love" each other, it has gone through different stages and evolve from mere feeling the butterflies in your stomach to footing the bills on dates to letting your partner decide every little details about the weddings to doing the laundry to feeding the baby at night so your partner can get a good night sleep to insert what loving couples would do for each other. This is only about love, you can take it and apply to every other emotions.

Then it leads me to think, if nothing is permanent and attachment to things in life is detrimental and ultimately futile, what really is the goal of life? While I like to dedicate myself in finding the truth, is it possible that maybe someone had already figured it out? Maybe someone had already discovered the truth and it can be found in one of these religions?

This is really when I became interested in Buddhism. I am still at the novice level and is learning more about it through some of the books I purchased years back that delved deep into the religion itself. I remember when I tried to read it back then I just couldn't get into it, at all. The time and condition wasn't right, or as an old Chinese adage goes, When the student is ready, the teacher will be there. So far I am learning about the history of Buddhism (I took a course back in college... clean forgot about most of it) and some basic principles of its teaching, just connecting the dots for now essentially.

Sorry, no dramatic personal experiences here... only intellectual curiosity so far, I think. Can't say I have too much of a conviction yet, and I'm not necessarily sure such conviction is a good thing, especially in regard to getting to know the truth. I like to think it is a direction and not a destination. If my conviction is too strong, it'll probably cloud my emotion and judgment and I'll become more resistant to new knowledge, especially if they conflict with my conviction. I say having an open mind is more difficult than what many people believe it to be.

So I got pulled over...

Me and my lady just went out and did a little shopping and on our way back, I got pulled over by a Highway Patrol officer for speeding. Soon after I pulled over, I realized I forgot to grab my wallet on the way out and almost immediately, I conjured up a mental image of me being taken away by the cop to the police station in handcuffs.

So the officer approached us by the passenger side and asked for my driver license, car registration and insurance. I answer him that I had forgotten my wallet and began to look for the car registration and insurance, pretty much thinking I'm screwed... royally. Then I handed him the papers and he told me I was doing 77 - 79 at a 65 zone, then asked me to step outside of my car, which I thought was a very bad sign. I was thinking, "This is it... he's gonna cuff me now... how is he going to take me to the station in his motorcycle?"

At this point, I was standing right next to him and his bike. He verified my name with my paperwork then radio his station to pull up my DL info and my address, height, weight and the color of my hair and eyes. Then he asked if I used to have a CDL (which I used to have for driving school bus), where I work now, where I was just coming from (the mall), and, just keep reminding me that I need to go slower and be careful. At this point I was just waiting for him to lay it down on me, but... it never came.

He told me, I need to go to the court, show them my DL, then my ticket will be dismissed.


He repeated, pointing to the paperwork he had for me, to an address for the court I need to go to. He explained again that I need to show them my DL, or I might even be able to fax it in, and the ticket will be dismissed. He warned that I will need to do it before December 3rd, or else I will be in real trouble.

I said to him, "Are you sure? You are being too kind to me here." Can't believe what I was hearing and, pretty sure I had a dazed look on my face.

He chuckled, "Hah, you didn't expect that because I'm a traffic cop?" He slightly tilt his head and glance at his bike while finishing up the ticket.

I asked again, "So you are saying I don't have to pay the fine?" Pointing to the part of the paperwork where it shows the fine for different violation, which read "Dismissing on showing of driver's license.....$120.00"

He repeated, "No you don't have to pay. Just go to the court and show them your DL and they will dismissed the ticket."

Then he finally gave me the ticket and warned me again, just be careful and don't speed.

Wow. I can't help but shook his hand before I got back into my car and drove away.


I'm not saying that because I got away pretty much scotch free that I am saying he is a good cop. But, seriously, I forgot my DL and I was speeding, that's a double whammy and all I got to do was to just show up in court and show them my ID? Even I thought that was too lenient. Especially with the current budget issue I'm sure every muncipalities had to deal with, giving me the ticket will surely contribute to that cause, plus the fact that I didn't have my DL and was speeding I still cannot see why the punishment wasn't more severe.

But, I'm sure glad it turned out the way it did.

I hear too many bad cop stories out there, about how they abuse their power and mishandled investigations. But I seldomly hear any praise or commendation on any of the police work. Although I'm not sure by not giving me the fine he did the right thing, but, I guess my point is, not all cops are the same, and it happens to turn out it is in my favor this time.

So I am finally at 10th lvl....

... and I thought it would take me forever, at least it certainly seem that way when I first started. I've been a member since 06 but haven't started posting here until a couple months ago on a faithful night (!!) when I found out the "forum" by mistake.

At the time I thought, "This is a gaming site.... I'll doubt I'll meet anyone interesting here. But I haven't have any experience about blogging/interent forum so I guess this could be a good place to start. Plus this seems like a good place to kill time and, a good place to think out loud." Thus officially begin my life on "the net" as a more active participant.

What I found out the next couple months was quite surprising. GS actually have a fair amount of intelligent users and some of the discussion threads here were quite top notch. I read WSJ and The Economist on a regular basis and I would say the comments I see here, in terms of contents and intelligence, is not that far off when comparing to those 2 publications and that says a lot. Some of GS users are very serious thinkers and many of them are still in their teens or early 20's... !!

So I decided, instead of just using GS as a springboard to bigger and better things (jk :P) I would become a more active contributor to GS.

I just went back and checked on "My Posting History" and see what I "contributed" when I first started... needless to say, I literally "facepalm" myself for some of the most unthoughtful and idiotic comments I have ever utter (or written).... but I supposed that was a good experience for me as that definitely knocked me off of my high and mighty horse of "I'm better than thou" attitude in terms of "online intelligence" or "online personality"...

Anyhoo thats my spill. Through GS I discover, or rather, rediscover the enjoyment I get from writing and, perhap more importantly, my search for knowledge. I have learned quite a bit here and frankly, I enjoy learning through this format.

So, thank you GS. You make me a slightly better person everyday :D

P.S. I finally feel I am at least a bit "less n00bish" now with my double digit GS lvl, a bit of a psychological barrier I imposed on myself and one I have overcame. *We are the Champion song playing in background*