02 June 2009

the only posts that mean anything to me

These are the only posts that mean anything to me after writing over 100.

To those of you who have this blog blogrolled, please remove your link to this blog -- I'd appreciate it.

18 March 2009

toodles -- the Ageless One is dead


It's been fun.

I've decided to shut down this blog, however, I will continue Linda's Yoga Journey because yoga is my life. Those of you who couldn't give a rat's furry behind about yoga won't be moseying on over there, so I will say goodbye to the faithful readers of this blog. I am blessed to have met you and known you as much as one can in the blogosphere.

The reasons why are not important, just know and accept that all things are impermanent, that is the nature of reality.

"That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything -- every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate -- is always changing, moment to moment."
-- Pema Chodron

"Come on, sweetheart,
let's adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me."

-- Rumi

The comments are shut down. Please remember to click the widget to feed shelter animals.

Wishing you peaceful hearts and heartful peace, and enjoy my music.

25 February 2009

the story of Jack the Yogi Cat

Seventeen years ago I saved him from running down a rain sewer in Texas. We were living outside of Dallas and a neighbor knocked on the door and asked if the gray and white mackerel tabby frolicking in the grass was our cat. We stepped outside and he was running around like crazy the way kittens do and I saw him head toward the long opening of the rain sewer in the gutter. I had seen adult cats jump in and out of that spot but I knew a little kitten probably couldn't jump back out, so just when he was about to dive in I grabbed his tail and put him in my arms.

We already had Sam-Dog, a big black Lab, and Sox (named after the Chicago White Sox), another rescued Texas street cat who lived in a pile of bricks -- a "marmalade" tabby with white socks and orange swirls on his sides. I rescued Jack in July and Sox walked into the house in March, estimated age was 6 months. I could tell you how Sox came into our lives, but this is Jackson Theodore Kat's story.

Not knowing yet if Jack had any diseases that would infect Sox, I put him in the yard with food and water. I knew then he was a cat who was happy just "being." At night he would crawl up on a window ledge and sleep and during the day he would hang out in the yard, he never wanted to leave. I took him to the vet and found out he was loaded the fleas and tapeworms. The vet gave him a shot for the tapeworms and I gave him a fleabath when I got home. I let him stay in the house after he got his shots. The Hubs wanted to name him Smokey but I said everyone names gray cats Smokey, that's boring, besides, he looks like a Jack.

Jack was smaller than Sam-Dog's head and when Sam went up to sniff him, the two pound kitten hissed and the 80 pound Lab turned around and walked away. I knew then he was a fighter, and that fighting spirit helped him through all his physical afflictions.

Sam-Dog, Sox, and Jack all got along and we eventually moved back to Chicago, us and the old Lab and the two rescued street cats. Sox and Jack would always sleep together, they were street brothers.

Jack grew into a big cat, almost 20 pounds. But fat cats are prone to diabetes and fatty liver disease. He developed FLD before he was 10 years old. Just like the link says, he had stopped eating and was losing weight. The vet treated him and when I got him home he still wasn't eating so I had to force-feed him with special food. I'd put him inside a pillow case with just his head sticking out and put a syringe full of special food down his throat. After a few days of this, I think Jack said "enough of this shit" and he started eating on his own. He regained some weight, but was never a fat cat again. He was just happy to be.

I can't remember exactly how he was diagnosed with diabetes but I gave him daily insulin shots for about 10 years. I can't tell you how many all-day glucose tests he's had over the years, and he had been on three different brands of insulin. Just like a human diabetic, he had crashes and I had to rush him to the vet. Once he was being boarded at the vet while we were on vacation and he crashed. To this day I think the vet tech made a mistake and gave him too much insulin because there was another diabetic cat there also named Jack -- I think they almost killed him. In any event, the vet called us and we flew home from New Mexico that day.

When we got to the vet, he told us Jack was recovered but blind. Oh well, I thought, we'll have a blind cat, no big deal. As soon as we got him home, Jack started jumping up on the counters begging for food! I moved my fingers in front of his eyes and watched how his eyes reacted -- he wasn't blind! But at the vet he just stared, unblinking. We're convinced that he faked being blind just to come home! When we got him home it was like he had never been sick at the vet. As it turned out, we could never board him again because he would stop eating, he would go on a hunger strike, and we eventually found someone to come over and take care of the cats if we went away. The reality was that our long vacations dwindled down to none because of Jack. In the last few years, however, I finally found someone who would come and give him his shot, I taught her how to do that.

In the last year, he's needed two insulin shots a day and I saw how diabetes ravaged his body, just like it does a human. He was also arthritic and I gave him shots once a month for that. The Hubs sawed off one side of a litter box so Jack could walk right in, so he did not have to lift his arthritic back legs. We did all that we could and as long as he wasn't showing pain, as long as I could see that he was happy just to be, I let him live his life of eating -- he loved avocados and peas and fresh meat, of course -- and sleeping on his chair. He could not get around too much anymore, his world was the kitchen and the basement. Jackson Theodore Kat was already skin and bones and yesterday he stopped eating, I saw a stagger in his walk. I knew it was time. I think he knew it too because he did not fight getting into his travel case. And he was always a fighter.

The vet sedated him and I kept my hand on his heart. Even with all his ills his heart always pumped strong. As she gave him the death needle I chanted OM MANI PADME HUM. I saw the suffering leave his gray and white face and he looked like a kitten again. Even the vet said she saw his eyes get wide and then he was at peace.

It is a law of physics that energy can neither be created nor destroyed so it follows that what is never born can never die. As a practicing Buddhist, I know this, that is why I do not fear death. My body will die but "I" will never die. I know that Jack the Yogi Cat has already been reborn as a higher life form.

And if Buddhist cosmology is all wrong, there is still that little bit of Christian left inside me who likes to believe that when we die all our pets will come running over the Rainbow Bridge to greet us.

Either way, we will see each other again, me and Sam-Dog and Jack the Yogi Cat.

Jack the Yogi Cat

I put my cat to sleep last night. I will write more about him later, but for now you can read what I wrote about him in 2007 in my yoga blog:

going with the flow

In the picture in this post he looks healthy. When he died he was skin and bones.

Jack was a street cat. Seventeen years ago I saved him from going down a rain sewer when he was a two pound bundle of fur covered with fleas and filled with tapeworms. Please click the "Feed Shelter Animals" widget in my sidebar, and if you are a regular reader, please click it every time you stop by. I do, and Jack thanks you.

11 January 2009

we all need prayers

"Pray For Me, Brother" -- "The AR Rahman Foundation presents a movement to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals."

If they can get along in love and peace, why can't we?

Don't ever tell me that animals are "dumb" and don't have feelings. They have it all over us in spades.

02 January 2009

poem: "concentric circles"

(photo credit: TomMartinArt)

I can not be as you want me to be
as you could not be as I wanted you to be

We have run in concentric circles
all these years
having the same center
but barely touching.

Years and years and years
of being together
but always apart.

Always together at the heart
at the center
but always apart
at the edges
of these concentric circles.

We cheat each other in this dice game
as Shiva cheated Parvati
in his game with her.

One day these concentric circles
will overlap and join
never to be pulled apart


25 December 2008

"Every animal knows far more than you do." (Nez Perce)

Norbert Rosing's striking images of a polar bear coming upon tethered sled-dogs in the wilds of Canada. The photographer was sure that he was going to see the end of the dogs when the polar bear wandered in, but the bear returned every night that week to play with the dogs.

From About.com: "The location was a kennel outside Churchill, Manitoba owned by dog breeder Brian Ladoon, who kept some 40 Canadian Eskimo sled dogs there when Rosing visited in 1992. A large polar bear showed up one day and took an unexpected interest in one of Ladoon's tethered dogs. The other dogs went crazy as the bear approached, Rosing says, but this one, named Hudson, "calmly stood his ground and began wagging his tail." To Rosing and Ladoon's surprise, the two "put aside their ancestral animus," gently touching noses and apparently trying to make friends."

From Rosing's website: "1988 he started his still ongoing project: The World of the Polar Bear. It covers the entire Canadian Arctic from Churchill/Manitoba to Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut. He captured in his pictures the life of the Inuit, Muskoxen, Atlantic Walrusses, Whales, Aurora Borealis and of course the life circle of the Lord of the Arctic, the Polar Bear."

Remember that Sarah Palin does not believe that polar bears are endangered, she hunted wolves from a helicopter, and she does not believe that global warming is real.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
- Mahatma Gandhi

What incredible images!

Sending bear hugs to you all!

(thanks Existentialist Cowboy!)

16 December 2008

does religion make us more divine or deranged?

(photo credit: bhakticollective)

Kaustubha Das asks a very good question. no society is immune from religious fundamentalism, just look at our home-grown fundamentalist Christians. all fundamentalists have the same thing in common: devotion to their god and a belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

in Sanskrit that would be bhakti combined with avidya with a good dash of asmita thrown in. devotion combined with ignorance and ego.


"When we see innocent people running our city streets, scrambling for shelter from acts of violence committed in God’s name, whether in Manhattan or Mumbai, it’s a good time to ask ourselves whether our religion is making us more divine or deranged. On the verge of 2009, it’s become all the more apparent that the first decade of the new millennium will, in many ways, be defined by the impact of religious terrorism on our nations, communities, families and minds. Times like these call for us to examine how our faith affects our reasoning....

The most relevant questions about religion will address how we approach it. Religion, as a method of self-transformation (or yoga), can purify the heart, free us of unworthy instinct and compulsion, and nurture the best in us. A pure heart is fit to receive God’s grace in the form of wisdom, contentment and compassion. Conversely, a superficial approach sees religion as merely a ticket to salvation via membership to a group endowed with the favor of God. It can result in just the opposite, fostering pride, sectarianism and hate. It can become an instrument for the expression of exactly that which we need to be purified of. Which brings us to the real enemy: not Islam, not even extreme fundamentalist Islam...."

To understand human nature I don't have to read modern western psychology books...all I need to do is look to yoga philosophy and Buddhism. Buddha was the first neuroscientist and psychologist and after his enlightenment he taught how to relieve our suffering, nothing more, nothing less. in fact his teachings were so simple that he almost decided not to teach what he discovered under the bodhi tree because he thought people would not believe him. after his enlightenment he was asked what he was and he merely said "awake." that is all the word "buddha" means.

As Das explains and also asks: "Yogic literature speaks of six enemies (Ari-shad-vargas) which bind the soul: kama, (lust); krodha, (anger); lobha, (greed); mada, (madness); moha, (illusion); and matsarya, (hate and envy). True religion aims at uprooting these terrorists. The sincerity of ones purpose in their approach to religious practice weighs heavily in determining ones success. Will the soul be purified or putrefied?"

Are you your own terrorist or will you choose to awaken?

03 December 2008

the heroes of Mumbai

(photo credit: New York Times)

For Heroes of Mumbai, Terror Was Call to Action

"On any ordinary day, Vishnu Datta Ram Zende used the public-address system at Mumbai’s largest railway station to direct busy hordes of travelers to their trains.

But last Wednesday just before 10 p.m., when he heard a loud explosion and saw people running across the platform, he gripped his microphone and calmly directed a panicked crowd toward the safest exit. The station, Victoria Terminus, it turned out, was suddenly under attack, the beginning of a three-day siege by a handful of young, heavily armed gunmen.

“Walk to the back and leave the station through Gate No. 1,” he chanted alternately in Hindi and Marathi, barely stopping to take a breath until the platform was cleared. No sooner, gunmen located his announcement booth and fired, puncturing one of the windows. Mr. Zende was not hurt.

Overnight, Mr. Zende became one of Mumbai’s new heroes, their humanity all the more striking in the face of the inhumanity of the gunmen....

Not far from the train station, as the same network of gunmen stormed the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, a sous chef named Nitin Minocha and his co-workers shepherded more than 200 restaurant diners into a warren of private club rooms called The Chambers.

For the rest of the night they prepared snacks, served soda, fetched cigarettes and then, when told it was safe, tried to escort the diners out through the back. They wanted to make sure their guests, many of them Mumbai’s super-elite, were as comfortable as possible.

“The only thing was to protect the guests,” said the executive chef, Hemant Oberoi. “I think my team did a wonderful job in doing that. We lost some lives in doing that.”

During the attacks, six employees from the kitchen staff were slain.

Even after an aborted evacuation bid, hotel workers helped get water for their guests and held up bedsheets to create makeshift urinals....

Mr. Zende joined the railways at the age of 19, when his father, a railway guard, died. With a 10th-grade education, Mr. Zende began at the bottom of the ladder, working himself up to the announcement booth. Now, he commutes an hour and a half each way from a working-class corner on the city’s northern edges, naturally on the railways. He makes little more than $300 a month."

India has lived with terrorism for years, yet it only becomes front page news when the white faces are killed.

I fell in love with India on my first trip. I was 51, alone, and I had never been overseas in my life, but as soon as my foot hit Indian soil I knew I had come home. when I returned to my American home a month later, I was changed. I experienced reverse culture shock that lasted for many months. I did not want to be here at all, it made me depressed. tired of my constant talk about India, my husband asked me, annoyed, "why do you love India so much?" I said without hesitation, "the people", and I started to cry.

I've spent my time with slum children who use garbage for toys and with Brahmins, the highest caste. I've spent time at a shelter with women who were rescued from the streets. There I talked with a former Bollywood star who told me, when I started crying because these women reminded me of the battered women to whom I teach yoga, "don't cry, madam, we like it here." I was hugged by a woman who could speak no English but she touched my hair and then touched hers and started talking to me in Tamil...the translator told me that she said we were the same because we both had the same thick, curly, dark hair. I've sat on the concrete floor of my auto rickshaw driver's two room apartment that doesn't have a bathroom, eating lunch with my hands in the south Indian way, sharing a communal meal with him and his wife and three daughters. they sleep on straw mats on the concrete floor.

I was the guest of honor at a school in the slums of Madurai where I told the children that they were all Gandhis. a teacher told the kids how it was their privilege for the American yoga teacher to visit their school today. I said, no, it was MY privilege to be treated with such graciousness, a total stranger. the principal took my hand and said I was a gift from God for them...and that's when I started to cry.

I've met people who have nothing according to white bread suburban standards and yet they have everything. there has not been one day since 2005 that I do not think about Ma India. she cracks open my heart and makes me count the days until I can run back into her arms and lose myself all over again.

28 November 2008

India's 9/11

(BBC photo)

The tragedy in Mumbai is India's 9/11. Unlike America before 9/11, India has always known terrorism, but never of the scale that has been experienced in Mumbai.

Those of you who know me know that India is my second home, however, I have never been north, I've always stayed south in my beloved Tamil Nadu. a Tamil friend in India emailed me this morning to tell me how sad she is that westerners were singled out by the terrorists. my friends here have emailed me telling me that they will worry about me even more now during my future trips to India (I have two planned.) I appreciate their concern, but I think it is misplaced because I can die within the hour or next week or 30 years from now. I am not afraid to die, not anymore. I do not live my life in fear, although I know I will die in India. don't ask me how I know, I just know.

I've heard from various news sources that the authorities think the terrorists have ties to Pakistan but also to Kashimiri separatist groups. For those of you who don't know India's history, Pakistan was created out of the Partition. There are some who think that it was one of the greatest tragedies in human history. this was a brutal time in India's history with atrocities committed on both sides. many westerners look up to Mahatma Gandhi, but I can tell you that some Indians hate him for his role in the Partition. I had a long conversation on a long Indian train trip with a man who told me that many Indians hate Gandhi just like Americans hate George Bush. it was an eye-opening conversation.

Terror and suffering in this world are created when we believe we are separate from one another, when we do not see ourself in the other person.

My heart cries for Mother India, my India.