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, 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.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Possibly Easier Way to Download the Index

Happy 2016!

The master index of all Geshe-la's books is now on Google drive.
I'd really like to know if this works better for you.

Wishing you all the best this year and beyond,

P.S. The master index has been removed from DropBox.