Faith Mind

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.

When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised

These are the opening lines to the Faith Mind sutra by Seng-Tsan, the 3rd Zen patriarch. Something in them calls to me, especially now.

I’ve been having these dissociative episodes, especially when I go to the supermarket. Something about the long lines of shelves and goods and the people makes me feel deeply overwhelmed. Things begin to feel unreal and far away. It’s scary and can bring on a panic attack. I’ve been avoiding going shopping in an attempt to avoid dealing with having another one. But we’re almost out of milk and it’s on me.

So I’m off to the grocery store and then to pick up Brianna from school. I don’t have to love BPD, but I need to let go of the hate and the fear. If it happens, it happens. I will be okay, in spite of what my emotion mind is telling me.

I just have to remember to breathe.

Next step: diet

I came across some interesting info:

The results of this study suggest that E-EPA may be a safe and effective form of monotherapy for women with moderately severe borderline personality disorder. (

Alrighty then, salmon is going to be on the menu a lot more at my house. As this journey continues, I want to continue to do everything I can to support myself. That means learning about this illness and discovering new ways of helping my body/mind to heal. Who knew that fish oil could help with BPD?

I saw the woman who made “Crazy Sexy Cancer” on TV yesterday. She was right to change her entire approach to living in response to her illness. I knew that was what I have to do, but not all at once. One step at a time.

When I practice mindfulness, even in the midst of my craziness, I feel better. I don’t always remember to practice, but it’s happening more and more. So I will celebrate my progress and plan my salmon dinner for tonight.

Movies to See and other random thoughts

How to Cook Your Life

Move over “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance!” Filmmaker Doris Dorrie turns her attention to Buddhism and that age-old saying, “you are what you eat.” In HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE Dorrie enlists the help of the charismatic Zen Master Edward Espe Brown to explain the guiding principles of Zen Buddhism as they apply to the preparation of food and life itself.

I had the pleasure of doing a cooking workshop with Edward Espe Brown during my monastic years. He’s a damn cool guy and an inspiration for me. I’m seriously looking forward to this one coming out. (Thanks for the link Bryan! Have I mentioned that I love my man?)

Blade Runner–The Final Cut

Ridley Scott’s brilliant classic restored to his original vision. The best science fiction film ever has its special effects restored. Plus, confirmation of what we long suspected: Deckard is a…

Philip K. Dick rocks. Blade Runner changed how I looked at the world. I will watch this one again and again. Besides, Darryl Hannah is so *cute*!

And now for something completely different…

The past week + has seen my bursitis flare up to a new level of pain. Oxycodone was helpful for a while, but I only had two of them. Unfortunately, I cannot keep myself unconscious until the pain goes away, though if the option were available, I would be tempted. Honestly, I don’t know how to fix my body.

I scored a piece of countertop and a section of kitchen cabinet at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $25 yesterday. With the addition of some legs, it will make a perfect workbench for my stained glass work. I’ll post before and after pictures of the project. I was very proud of myself for being thrifty. Workbenches for artists are stupidly expensive ($250+). Even with the Canadian dollar being on par, that’s just way too much money. It’s nice to know that occasionally my brain still kicks in.

Sentient Beings Are Numberless, I Vow to Save Them

No one can say that Buddhists don’t aim high. Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them is the first line of the bodhisattva vow made/taken by Buddhists of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. This past sesshin, Myotai Sensei encouraged all of us to take up these vows in a concrete, personal way.

In one sense, realizing the unity of all things is saving all sentient beings—I save them by saving myself. But that is only one side of it. The other side is how that vow functions in the world of this and that, me and you, self and other.

Never mind that I don’t know how to save myself (breathe, let go, breathe, let go? Okay, so maybe I do know), never mind that I feel utterly inadequate to rise to the challenge of the suffering of the world. Never mind that keeping myself focused, grounded, and sane so I can function for myself and my family seems to take most of my energy and effort. Never mind that I cook, and clean, and raise a child, and have a full-time career and can hardly find time to breathe let alone take care of self and others. Never mind that when I raise my eyes and look around I see a world of infinite pain and suffering so immense that I have not a fucking clue as to where to begin.

Never mind all of that. Sentient beings are numberless and I vow to save them.

What will my particular focus be? I’ve been working with the issue of depression for a long time. I could advocate for better treatment options for people suffering from mental illness, especially for children. The other focus is food safety, something that has arisen as part of my tenzo practice. I feel like I don’t have time to do both, so I want narrow my focus and pick one issue.

Advocating for mental health feels like part of my past—looking back to what I’ve dealt with and gone through, which is no small thing. Yet, at the same time, I think that my Zen practice has done more for my mental health than all the therapy. In my case, it really is the medication that has made the difference. When I let go of my resistance to taking it (the new generation of medications with reduced side effects make this easier), my brain function improved. Yet, there is a generation of children who are suffering and need assistance. Wait times need to come down for mental health services and children of people with serious mental health issues still fall through the cracks. There is a need there, a real and profound need. The answer may be a combination of political advocacy and volunteering with organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The issue of food and security, quality, locality, et al. is something that keeps coming up for me currently and is a concern going forward in my life and the life of my family, as well as my community and nation. The way we produce food and eat it in North America is killing us. Let me repeat that.

The way we produce food and eat it in North America is killing us.

Not only that, we are losing our knowledge of human-scale food production methods, knowledge built up over thousands of generations of agriculture-based humanity. When our current system fails, and I am convinced that it will, how will future generations of human beings feed themselves if we’ve lost all that data?

When I look at it this way, the answer is obvious. If we can’t eat, if we can’t feed ourselves and our children, then we won’t be around to care about our mental health. I can still help in that arena by writing letters to my MP and others and voting on the issues. But I truly feel called to address our food issues.

For example, on our recent trip to the U.S., I was introduced to the practice of gluttony in a new way. Why in the hell is a “large” iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts a full quart of drink?!?! How big is the extra large that was on the menu? We also made the mistake of stopping at Wendy’s while on the road. The medium soft drink we were given is bigger than the super-size option here in Canada! No wonder Americans are the fattest people on earth!

Unrealistically cheap food, especially food that is based on the corn industry, is causing a host of weight-related health problems. High-fructose corn syrup, the prime sweetener in the Wendy’s soft drink, is a truly evil concoction of corporate America. A cheap food substance that the body does not recognize as food, so you can keep pumping as much of it as you like into a human body and it will not register as satisfied even as it converts the sugars to fat. Truly a marketers dream.

Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them. My community desperately needs to change how it eats and how it produces food. I vow to work for that change, not only for myself and my family, but for my community, my nation, and all human beings. This is my vow.