Operation “save’ America reaches a new low by barging into a Unitarian Universalist funeral and protests because they don’t like their view of religion. This is absolutely unthinkable. In our nation where we all are allowed to worship freely, disruptions like this are criminal. Everyone who participated SHOULD be jailed at once.
Clips of what I had witnessed at the age of 9. On that day, nothing was impossible.
It was July 20th, 1969, I was 9 years old and I had 45 cents in my pocket. I had watched all week with eager anticipation as the astronauts crept toward their goal, and then landed on the moon.
My nine year old impatience told me they were never going to come out, despite the assurances from Walter Cronkite and my dad who said it’d be a wasted trip if they didn’t. He went on to work that morning but I couldn’t fathom why. After all, there were men on the moon. Couldn’t he close up shop for one day and wait with us?
Nope, he told me. A contract had to be filled and bills had to be paid. I stood on the porch and watched as his sleek black Ford Fairlane, glistening from it’s latest waxing, slid out of it’s spot in the driveway and drove toward town, where his machine shop was.
I spent the day writhing in agony, so much so, that our housekeeper changed the channel and flopped onto the sofa and watched Edge of Night. I got stuck doing her ironing and felt beat up by the whole idea. Soon, however, I got a great idea, gathered up my brothers and told them I was going to take them down the corner to get some ice cream.
She mumbled something about not being gone too long.
Where are we going? Zack asked as I picked up Eddie, our baby brother and walked with determination in the opposite direction of the ice cream shop.
To see Dad, I replied.
I guess we’re not getting ice cream, then. He said, crestfallen.
I marched my brothers down a busy thoroughfare, waited on the traffic lights, and crossed the street onto Bruton Road. My dad’s shop was there, I knew. I had walked this way many times, often to sweep out the shop for a handful of change that would get me the latest X-Men or a trip to the theater.
There was a fruit stand across the street from my dad’s shop, and I stopped there, bought the boys large sticks of sugar cane that they chewed on with relish. Our next stop was a store where we got Slush Puppies, and three cardboard Lunar Landers.
The boys didn’t care for them, but I relished them. I already had quite a fleet growing on my dressing table, much to the church ladies’ disapproval.
Being interested in space wasn’t lady like. Moreso, just thinking about going to the moon was a sin. The preacher was adamant about that, and railed against the lunar program every Sunday.
I spent my time drawing pictures of girl astronauts in a notebook and ignored the ravings of the ignorant.
Dad called the housekeeper and let her know we were safe and she could go home. Dad finished his work (after about an eon of time had passed) and he had us get into the car. We stopped off for burgers and fries–a rare treat–but I wasn’t interested in eating. I wanted to go home. I wanted to see the astronauts come out. Surely, they would die of old age after all the time had passed.
Can’t we go now?
It’ll be a long time before they come out, my father assured me. I pouted, my brothers got rowdy in the booth and dad paid us out.
We still didn’t go home, much to my disappointment. Instead we went to the drive in and watched a movie. I can’t even remember what it was, because I was sullen and anxious and I wanted to get home.
I didn’t realize at the time, that my father had given me a treat, dinner out, a movie, two of my favorite things, but I didn’t appreciate his kind gesture, I just wanted to get back home and watch television. I wanted to see the astronauts come out.
Can we go now??? I pleaded for the thousandth time. I was sure at this point, a whole epoch of time had passed. My father flicked his cigarette out of the window, tossed the speaker back into it’s cubby and we drove home.
I couldn’t wait to get to the tv and turn it on. I sat with a mixture of disappointment and joy that the astronauts hadn’t ventured out onto the lunar surface. They still hadn’t come out.
They won’t come out until way after your bedtime, Dad said.
I felt a tantrum building. After my bedtime? You mean I had to go to bed? On a night like this?
And worse, had the church ladies gotten to him, making him think that girls shouldn’t even be watching the moon landing because it was sinful and not lady like for girls, or anyone else, really, to even think about leaving the Earth?
No, I could tell by the look on his face the day we left church, and the preacher rubbed my head and said, ‘nice looking bunch of boys you got there, Mr. Eldred,’ and he knew it burned me up and I wanted to kick the preacher’s shins, but his hand on my shoulder tensed enough to let me know that wasn’t going to happen. I could see, also the mischief in my father’s eyes.
Not only was he going to watch the moon landing himself, but he was going to let me watch it too.
It’s history, so yeah you can sit up, but just this once, my father said.
He went into the kitchen and made popcorn. My brothers and I scrambled up on the couch. We watched, we listened as Walter Cronkite guided us through the astronaut’s daily activities, replayed the lunar landing, showed animations of how everything worked, and then I saw that both my brothers had fallen asleep. Dad carried them to bed. I finished off the popcorn and continued to watch, enraptured, at the tiny craft still hunkered down on the harsh lunar landscape.
My father returned, and I curled up by his side, his arm drawing me close. He smelled pleasantly of machine oil and Burma Shave. He lit a cigarette and the end glowed between the fingers of his left hand. I felt comforted, warm and safe.
Dad? I asked
Listen, he said.
So I watched. I felt my eyelids drop, but I did not allow myself to fall asleep. It was too important not to. I thought of my fleet of lunar landers. I imagined being in command of them all, building a colony on the moon. I had already drawn pictures of it. I knew it would happen, and when I grew up I’d go and live on the moon.
And then the hatch opened. The whole world held it’s breath. I cannot describe the sensation. It was as if every human on earth ws in communion all at once. We, humanity, had sent a handful of men into the unknown. And now they were going to step outside.
I gripped my dad’s arm. It was almost too much to watch. Even though I saw the faint flickering shadows that came from another world, I was fearful. What if Neal Armstrong fell? What if a monster rushed out and ate him? What if he died suddenly and we all were watching and unable to be of any help?
What if nothing at all happened?
Something happened. Armstrong uttered his famous words, put his feet on the moon, and then all of Earth’s dreams came true.
It was too much. I burst into tears. My father picked me up and carried me to my room and put me to bed. I cried myself to sleep. Not because I was sad, but because I was so overwhelmed by the experience. You can’t get the same feeling by watching the old videos. You really had to be there at that moment to fully comprehend the greatness of the moment. It was the height of human achievement, and at that moment, there was nothing we couldn’t do. It was a feeling that stayed with me all my life.
That night I dreamed of space ships and planets, of giants walking on the moon.
There is no doubt of it in my mind; their footprints are still there.
I do not teach in a formal setting. There are no temples, no thrones for me to sit on. No students who sit and listen to me. Yet, as I learned last night, I do teach. My teachings are subtle, and are found in common everyday things, but the Dharma is there, for those who are able minded enough to find it.
I may talk about my cat, how she became quite ill. How I took her to the animal hospital where I learned she had very painful bladder stones. The stones, obviously had to come out.
I am very poor. I cannot even afford a pair of shoes. How was I going to be able to pay for her surgery?
I went to Go Fund Me and I begged. I went to animal rescue sites and I begged some more. I prayed, I went to my altar and whispered heartfelt prayers through a veil of tears.
Soon, money came. A friend made three round trips to get the cat to the vet, get Lady G her surgery and to return her home.
We were all exhausted, but happy.
So, what does this have to do with Dharma? After all, a cat is just a cat, my love for her is an attachment. I should have just let her die, right?
As a Bodhisattva in training, it is my duty to care for those who are suffering. My cat, whether she was ‘mine’ or just a stray, was suffering and needed help. How could I look at myself in the mirror and ignore someone’s suffering, especially the suffering of a helpless creature?
Compassion, tempered with wisdom motivated me to act. I contacted people who could help. I took her to the vet. I found out what was wrong. I put aside my pride and humbly asked for money to help her.
There is the dharma. There, hidden in the seeds of simple everyday things is the dharma in action. Those of lesser comprehension looked at me stupidly and told me I wasted my time. Those with greater comprehension, smiled and nodded. I had touched a heart.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche once stated in his commentary, “Heart Treasure of the Enlightened ones, that what you do between your meditation practices is what is most important. Because while you are between meditation sessions you have the opportunity to put what you have learned to good use, not just for yourself, but for the betterment of all beings. Some may think doing so is an insurmountable task, but it really is not. Because that is when results come, not in tremendous earth shattering realizations, but in the little things, the tiny details, the silken threads that weave a life of compassion and purpose together.
I find enlightenment in the small, everyday things. Just like a climber takes on Mount Everest. The mountain looks, from a distance, insurmountable. But it’s in the small steps that the mountain is conquered. Success comes in each toe hold, every grip of a finger, every muscle that strains to get closer to the top. It takes time to reach the summit, but when you get there, the scenery is spectacular. May you find your summit.
I love the old cold war science fiction/horror movies. Today I have listed a number of them on my facebook page, The Only Buddhist in Town. If you enjoy them as much as I do, come have a look. I’ve got several I intend to play during the day and evening. It should be a fun night.
A small but interesting video of the ghosts of the Puckley Ghosts. It’s kinda boring in narrative but the information is still strange.
Eerie Puckley Village. Some say these hauntings are a hoax, others say it’s real. Interesting place to visit.
Make of this what you will, but it appears to me that Bobby Jindal seems to think the school board is being persecuted because it cannot discriminate against the Buddhist family. There is a deepening trend among evangelical Christians, who seem to think the Freedom of Religion clause applies to them and them only. In fact, I have heard some politicians actively voice that idea. However, that is NOT the case, there must be freedom of religion for EVERYONE or NO ONE is truly free.
So, suck it up, butter cups. America is NOT all white bread, waspish and protestant only. We are a diverse and secular society and should always remain that way.
These evangelicals are like jackals, deceiving and eroding Tibetan culture and religion. They are shameless opportunists. I hope they leave Tibet and stay out.