Showing posts from April, 2013

Living Below the Line - When Food Becomes Medicine

Yesterday was a really good day. My body, for the most part, has adjusted to the Live Below the Line challenge and both my mood and my strength were high pretty much all the way through what was for me the first day of the workweek. It was also a very beautiful warm spring day of a season that has been very chilly and rainy so far. I wanted to garden! I wanted to go for a run! Unfortunately, though, by the time I got home from work my strength was quickly waning and I just didn’t think that my rice and lentils would provide me enough fuel for such activity. I know, I know, that’s highly debatable, and nutritionists and strict vegetarians alike might decry what I did next… I used some of my “banked” money to buy a tin of tuna fish and a slice of bread. I prepared a dinner of half a tuna sandwich and I was good to go.
We don’t usually ponder such things, do we? We eat what we want when we want it. We feel entitled to whatever fuel of whatever octane we might desire. This point first re…

Living Below the Line - Settling into it with a little Dogen

I suspect that most readers of this third piece in my Live Below the Line series will not have all that much experience with going hungry. Sure, we’ve all gotten to the point where we’re just dying for lunch or dinner only to have it superseded by some fairly rare event – we’re in the middle of a project, for instance, or we’re travelling in between towns. And so we become ravenous – feeling as though we could “eat a horse”! Thankfully enough, though, the moment soon arrives when we simply go get something to eat. End of story.
If you’ve ever fasted, you have a little bit more realistic view of hunger. As dinnertime comes around you do indeed feel as though you could eat a horse. But as the karma of your dinnertime subsides so do your hunger pangs, and in their place is that low blood sugar sensation of lightheadedness, weakness, headachiness, and whatever other sensations you might associate with your body tapping into its stored fuel and starting to burn it. If you’ve embarked upon…

Living Below the Line - Understanding the Challenge

I must admit that I felt just a little bit of trepidation as I contemplated the terms of the Live Below the Line challenge – live for five days on only what food and drink can be purchased for $1.50 per day. What if I totally underestimate my caloric need and end up spending the whole week with plummeting blood sugar levels and gnawing hunger pangs? What if it turns out that I’m essentially clueless as to my nutritional requirements and I end up getting a little loopy by day three? Yes, and as soon as I recognized this most central of human fears – the fear of not having enough – I realized that I absolutely had to accept the challenge. Over a billion people, without having any choice in the matter whatsoever, live day in and day out for years on end or for the entirety of their lives with the uncertainty that I was fearful of experiencing for just five measly days. Okay, then, count me in.
The Buddhist practice that I embrace encompasses the bodhisattva ideal – the vow to save all b…

Living Below the Line - An Introduction

Consider for a moment what it would be like to be out on the street with nothing but the clothes on your back and a buck and some change in your pocket. How will you make it to tomorrow? What will you eat? Where will you stay? Forget your cable bill and your internet charges… Forget your car payment and all of the cool stuff you still want to buy… Forget your health club membership and your yoga classes… Forget your insurance premium and your retirement account… Forget your tall skinny lattes and your hip new eyeglasses, as well, for crying out loud! You’ve got a buck and some change to make it to tomorrow. Period. And don’t even begin to think that tomorrow brings a sigh of relief and a clean pair of underwear and a return to your “normal” existence! When tomorrow arrives you’ll have just another buck and some change to make it to the day after that…, and so on and so forth until perhaps the end of your days.
Sound harsh? Do you wonder whether it’s even possible to feed and clothe a…

Forgiveness, Part 2 - Part of it, anyway!

Please forgive me for straying so far from the usual rhythm of my posts. It’s been a busy spring so far! Yes, there’s been the usual pruning, transplanting, brush removal and garden preparation. Unfortunately, though, I’ve also had to cut down a forty foot tall bald cypress tree whose roots had breached the sewer line, causing it to clog and begin to buckle. It was difficult work, and solemn, too – both for the fact that it was dangerous for me, and for the fact that I was ending the life of something just as it was beginning to bud again.

Cutting short the life of anything is not something that I relish doing. I hope the tree forgives me, likewise the animals and humans that enjoyed its beauty, shade, and shelter. I’ve managed to forgive myself, I think, both for cutting the tree down now and for not being mindful enough regarding my choice of where to plant it in the first place. We can never count on being forgiven, though – at least we Buddhists can’t. There's always the karm…