Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Zen Judaism

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Zen Judaism:The Jewish Approach to Zen

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life.
With the first sip... joy.
With the second... satisfaction.
With the third, peace.
With the fourth, a danish.

Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single "oy."

There is no escaping karma.

In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?

The Tao does not speak.
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as the wooded glen.
And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Be patient and achieve all things.
Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

To Find the Buddha, look within.
Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.

To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle.
What were you thinking?

Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says," Love thy neighbor as thyself."
The Buddha says there is no "self."
So, maybe you are off the hook.

The Buddha taught that one should practice lovingkindness to all sentient beings.
Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?

Though only your skin, sinews, and bones remain,
though your blood and flesh dry up and wither away,
yet shall you meditate and not stir until you have attained full Enlightenment.
But, first, a little nosh.

TMI Syndrome

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Oh. My. Gosh. I discovered recently that this ailment/syndrome that I suffer from has a name: TMI Syndrome.

I know I'm not alone in my suffering; there are countless others afflicted with this ailment, some of whom admit it, others who prefer to look the other way.

All my life I recognized the symptoms, but did not put a formal name to them. If given a symptoms checklist, I'd probably have to tick off YES for almost every question.

Does your stomach clench oftentimes for no apparent reason? YES.

Does your brain sometimes feel like it's working in overdrive, like a computer that just wants to spew out a lot? YES.

Do your cheeks flush at these times? YES.

Do you tend to be impatient at times? YES.

Do you sometimes stumble over your words as you're speaking? YES.

Do you sometimes suffer from feelings of guilt and regret? YES.

Do you seek attention? N/A

Do other people enjoy your company? N/A

Okay, the stupid checklist goes on and on and sometimes gets just a tad too personal -- asking me questions I prefer not to answer, giving me statistics I didn't ask for!

But yes, I suffer from the TMI Syndrome, the Too Much Information Syndrome.

Shall I tell you how it began...? No?

Shall I tell you why I think I suffer from it...? No?

Shall I tell you when the syndrome seems to peak? No?

Shall I tell you anything? No?

So why the heck are you here visiting me? Oh...so you saw the header and you liked that...and then you liked the cartoon that I posted...and you needed somewhere to hang out for the afternoon...and you thought I might provide some good recipes for low-fat snacks...and you were hoping that you might catch a sexual innuendo comment from some weirdo type...and you like the name of my blog...

Um, you know, my lunch break is over. I really have to go now. Yeah, okay, sure you can tell me about your family some other time.


By the way, I've met some others also suffering from the syndrome, and we've given ourselves nicknames. I had to choose from Chatty Cathy (TM), Princess Loquaciousness, STREAMOFCONSCIOUSNESS, Detailz, Miss Talk-a-Lot. I opted for none of the above, and just went with Pearl. That's really how I'm known best.

Lost in Translation

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I was just thinking -- at 12:45 a.m. thereabouts -- that words and expressions sound so different, have a different impact, if you say them in English or if you say them in Yiddish or Hebrew.

I'm used to saying, "Thank G-d", yet I know countless others who say, "Baruch Ha-Shem."

I'm used to saying, "G-d willing" while others say, "Im yirtze Ha-Shem."

These expressions sound vastly different when spoken by me; they mean the same thing in either language, so why does my version not sound as holy?

Sometimes there is just no way to properly translate an expression; just think of all the Yiddish curses that exist. They just don't have the same impact on the ear witness when spewed in English.

Another case: when I was about 8 years old, I helped name our neighbor's cat. I suggested "Chatul," which simply enough means "cat" in Hebrew. Sure, I wouldn't have dared suggest naming the striped orange tabby "Cat"--that would have sounded too much like something out of an early days grade-school reader featuring Dick, Jane, Cat , Dog. But "Chatul"--that had a certain je ne sais quoi to it....and it worked until the cat ingested rat poison in a nearby plaza parking lot. Then the cat was dead, finis, mort, muerto, niftar in any language!

If you can think of several other common Jewish expressions that are used, throw them out. If you know some and don't share them, it would be a shame...a shande. Hmmm, shande is too impactful there. I'll settle for "a shame"!