A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Seeking The Death Practice

Sometime back I wrote that the state of our country and the world so discouraged me that, when and if it ever was offered, I would seek to learn the Buddhist practice of learning how to die carefully, deliberately, and consciously.

The opportunity has arisen and I am preparing to go when June commences. I am over 50 and I have never cared much for material goods beyond immediate need or temporary amusement. I have always been, in fact, like some ronin, or masterless Samauri, wandering aimlessly, living sparely, for temporary hire, and only occupied with keeping a couple of swords clean and sharp.

In addition, the three or four genuine ambitions of my youth and maturity, have either been fulfilled, or proved fruitless, and were, in any case, no more permanent or important than material goods to me. I can legitimately write three letters after my name, if I so choose, and could parade around like "Doctor Phil" on Oprah Winfrey. But I was educated in a field where modesty about scholarly accomplishment is highly prized, and the greatest and most famous of us relished the plain title of "student" more than any other. Besides, what would be the point?

Finally, all of my near blood kin are dead. I keep a picture or two, for remembrance sake, as well as the flag the Government provided for my father's coffin, but little else is left. Only Mrs. Claus, really. She is far sicker than I am and thus likely to leave sooner.

So why should I not seek the death practice? What gift is greater than being able to say, "Let death come when and where it will. I now know how to do it properly."?

Of course, once you are taught the death practice, you need to actually practice it regularly to do it properly, rehearsing the inner steps over and over every day. And, at the end of every rehersal, as with all Buddhist practice, you should dedicate the merit accumulated for the final enlightenment of all. It is these things which create the conditions where you actually will be able to use it when the time comes.

As anyone who has been reading regularly will know, I have been slowly becoming more and more convinced that the political character of this blog is futile. Few, if any, minds will be changed; the bad things happening already have enough momentum to continue unless stopped very soon; and the good things that could happen will be readily blocked by my adversaries, since there are enough of them to do at least this no matter what else happens.

My intuition, my Buddhist study, and my plain common sense tells me that most of the men and women I encounter, in either the virtual or the literal world, are headed toward a very bad place in the short term. For they are squandering the immense accumulation of karmic merit that is required for a human birth. They are leading a life largely indifferent to fundamental things, moral merely from habit and not conscious choice when moral at all, and evading always the reality of the approach of their own death. Moreover, the rich and the powerful among us not only largely squander even more meritorious accumulation--the cause of the riches and the power--from past lives of conscious and moral living. They fairly frequently commit great immoral actions and crimes that will mature into unendurable suffering in a large number of their future lives.

They need all the merit dedicated to their ulitmate enlightenment that they can get.

So, at least for me, doing the death practice will be the best of both worlds. I will no longer have to delay my death in a world gone intransigent and insane, and I will, as well, be doing just about the only real good I can do for it, under the circumstances.

When I come back in mid-June I will sincerely wish and hope to live long and practice what I have been taught until it becomes second nature. Then it will largely happen automatically at death, if I can die with full consciousness.

That will be a death worth having, leading to a future that is simply beyond words.


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