In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prayers Please for Christine

Please make strong prayers that the conditions come together for a better life for Christine.
I'm sure those would make a big difference; you know I believe in the power of prayer!

Thank you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where I've Landed

After a few weeks of medical tests, scans & appointments, followed by a shorter period of limbo, I'm ready to update you about the latest phase of my treatments.
Because of the extraordinary, indefatigable efforts by my oncologist Dr K, I am now on the immunotherapy drug Opdivo, which after just 2 infusions has already lowered my cancer marker by more than 100. That drug has been FDA-approved for some cancers, but I am getting it as "compassionate care" from its maker, Bristol Meyers Squibb, at no cost.
As with other targeted therapies, it has almost no side effects, because it can distinguish between healthy tissue and the other kind. I do have a bit of lingering fatigue, which I'm inclined to believe is from the 25 pelvic radiations I recently had over 5 weeks.
Soon I will also be getting 5 CyberKnife radiations to the very small bit of my brain where a tumor has regrown.

Just like the skies in Seattle, my health forecast looks like sunny days ahead ... so sunny that at the end of the month I am going to U.S. Festival and then visiting family.
Yesterday I registered for the very special Summer Festival in England.

Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and support, which have brought me where I am now, my 7-year cancerversary. Celebrate!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

U.S. Fest registration opens Feb 24

Registration for U.S. Festival with Gen-la Dekyong opens Wed, Feb 24 at 9am Pacific time (noon Eastern time). If you want to stay at the cheaper housing onsite (except for you hardy souls who camp), plan to sign up as soon as reg opens.
This year the Festival is Friday April 29 - Wednesday May 4.
More info at A Blissful Journey: Being Inspired by Buddha's Life & Example.

Dorje Shugden has been exceedingly helpful in removing problems to fulfill my wishes to attend various Celebrations and Festivals. I like to say he is the "best travel agent." With that referral, I recommend talking to him, or one of his good friends.

good results so far

Hello Friends!
I found out last night that my CA-125 marker for ovarian cancer went down, from 482 two weeks ago to 428. I believe that means the Topo chemo is (finally) working.

Do you think it's a coincidence that R & I - and lots of other NW Sangha - went to the Western Canada Dharma Celebration with Gen-la Khyenrab and Gen Thekchen last weekend, for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, and teachings and meditations on the practices of him and powa?

So many precious insights to take away, including that the brain is the "organ of confusion," so we should put aside questions like whether we have really gotten the deceased to the Pure Land. What is "real" anyway, when everything is ultimately mere imputation? 

Of course, that doesn't mean that we have blind faith. Buddhism encourages us all to personally investigate the teachings - to actively "interrogate" what Buddha says, through experiments in our daily lives (is this making me happier?, is this making my relationships better? for example); through deeply contemplating and meditating on the reasonings; and through recognizing the long history of Masters who are the source of this wisdom, starting with Buddha Shakyamuni.

Last Wed I started radiation too, to receive blessed lights to reduce or maybe even eliminate the tumor pressing on my bladder and causing incontinence. That treatment will be every weekday for at least 4 weeks. 
Thankfully I have Sangha friends who will drive me - which gives us a good chance to talk. I see it as a nice way of relying on Sangha. I "ain't too proud to beg" when my driving is unsteady. Thank you Cecilia & Deb for the continuing rides to class, and to Susan, Jeff, Marsha, Mary, James and Marie, as well as other "players yet to be named" (as they say in baseball trades) who have driven me to & from medical appointments, none of which is ordinary.

For further tests, my regular brain MRI scan is Wed, Feb 24, and my torso CT is Mon, Feb 29, after which we will know more.

Thank you for your continuing support.
Prayers always appreciated. You keep me here.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Prayers for Cindy's Mom, Susan

Please make strong healing prayers for Susan Irwin, who is in Intensive Care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Long Overdue Update

Let’s see … where was I?

Last you heard, I was still on Gemzar chemo. Since then I have moved to another one, called Topotecan, because when the previous chemo had stopped doing its job, I had to fire it. (My tumor marker shot up this Fall, and kept shooting up.)

I’ve had 3 infusions of the Topo nectar now and will get a tumor-marker test this week to see whether it’s working.

Thankfully I know my body is *not* "me," so I am still happy … and hope you are too.
Know that there can be various difficulties with you body that with training won't damage your state of mind. It's true!

At the end of December I was in limbo, waiting to see if I could get on a promising clinical trial (which didn’t open more slots) and then another one (which seemed to dissolve, leaving no trace). Until I can find a good trial, I am back on chemo.

On this new Topo regime, I’ve had more side effects, which took me several days to adjust to and figure out.
Acceptance is a big part of my practice. There’s a lot I’d like to write about that, but for now I will simply say it creates a space to understand where I am, and then the room to move forward.
Now I feel like I am back on my board, surfing those swells, rather than being pounded by them.

Here's a slice of my life about medications:
In ordinary terms it’s a lot easier because I now have routines for them. Yet they still take up a surprising amount of time, on top of my existing routines: For example, I have many pills, which have different dosages, to take at different times of day, with and without meals or whenever. I have 7 different-colored pill containers (holding pills of different colors, with white being especially popular), some pill boxes by the bed, some by the kitchen; the newer ones with notes attached about what they are and how to take them. It helps me to see when the box (a day of the week) within the (pill)box is empty, to confirm I've already taken that dose. That’s not including the “take as needed” prescriptions.
I think I could teach a medicine-management workshop.

Does that all make me a juggler? Not that anyone would want to watch. Hopefully another ball won't be thrown in for a little while, while I finish mastering the current routine.

I think that's everything for now. I will do my best to provide more frequent health updates, because people keep asking for them


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Imputation & Online IDs

I tend to think of self-generation as a Buddhist Deity as being a foreign experience, as something brand new that I need to learn from scratch. But if you're online, especially if you're playing a game such as a MMOPRG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) or you're in some kind of virtual reality, you're creating (generating) yourself. You're a different person (an avatar). You have a special name, with special characteristics (think of a superpower like flying), in a different body or shape, with different clothes (maybe even armor), with special implements, with special friends, all in a special world. That sounds just like generating yourself as Vajrayogini in her Pure Land, doesn't it? In other words, we already know how to do this.

Unlike when we're new to Tantra, in an online game we're not thinking, "I am pretending to be this character," because we're so immersed in that world. We don't tell ourselves, "I who am watching this character on my screen, am not really that character." We don't step back and analyze. We don't bother with questioning its existence, because we're fully into it. We've chosen to be there. We want to be there. When we're immersed, we're fully inside that life - we've left our ordinary world completely behind. If we could, we'd stay there for a very long time. There's a reason it's sometimes called an "escape."

Unlike our varying imputations as daughter, aunt, student, editor, and so on, we deliberately, consciously choose our various online identities. Sometimes even our user names have a special and/or secret quality to us, reflecting a particular aspect of ourselves.

I won't even mention the anonymity that allows us to show our worst qualities, to vent anger and hate.

There's also the underlying almost-emptiness of it all. Anything "virtual," meaning  computer-generated, is made of  1's and 0's - a pretty flimsy basis for so much of our current experience. If you think about it, obviously computer software comes from someone's mind. The program wasn't there until someone dreamed it up. When we're working on a computer device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), we're not investigating where those appearances on-screen are coming from, what they're made of, how they came into being. We just go with it all because it functions.

Even if you consider yourself a technophobe (which of course is a kind of identity / imputation), and you don't spend much time online or even avoid it entirely, if you've ever been absorbed in a book or a movie, you know this experience. For example, when we're reading, we're not conscious of "I am holding a book, a collection of pages with markings" - or what a Microsoft researcher used to call "sooty marks on dead trees." You're most likely identifying with the hero/heroine or anti-hero at the center of the story.

So let's stop pretending we don't get it, and get on with it.