“For the love of wildlife”

Thought I’d share the leading article in our local paper last weekend:

For the love of wildlife

The Walton Sun

Walton County Sheriff’s deputies rescue and revive raccoon.

Sgt. Donald Savage has been with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office for 5.5 years, but he had never been dispatched on a raccoon rescue mission before last Sunday.

Robine Bascom lives in Gulfview Heights. About 8 a.m. Sunday, she discovered a raccoon’s head sticking out of a hole in a large dumpster at a construction site across the street.

The raccoon was still alive, but its entire body was submerged in water except for its head, which it had managed to stick out of the small hole.

Bascom surmises it had probably jumped into the water-filled dumpster during the night and couldn’t get back out. After swimming for maybe most of the night to keep its head above water, the poor critter became tired and was about to drown. It stuck its head through the small opening in order to breathe.

“It was obvious he was suffering,” said Bascom.

Bascom called Walton County Sheriff’s Department and asked for help to save the critter.

Deputies Lloyd Skipper and Michael Townsend were dispatched to the site and joined by Savage.

Skipper put a rope around the raccoon’s body and pulled while Townsend and Savage pushed on its head with a board.

“He growled and took a couple of chunks out of the board while we were pushing, but we had to get him out or he was going to die stuck like that,” said Savage. “He was probably exhausted and eventually passed out, which helped us to free him.”

When Skipper succeeded in pulling the raccoon free, it flopped lifelessly to the ground.

“He was pretty much gone when we got him out,” said Savage.

Skipper began pushing on the raccoon’s chest with his foot in an attempt at cardiac compression. After about 15 minutes, it finally began to breathe, then moved and finally set up and ran off into the woods.

Bascom saw the revived raccoon later on that evening at her garbage can, looking no worse for his misadventure.

“That was a first call for any of us for a raccoon,” said Savage. “I’ve had calls for snakes and all sorts of critters to get them out of people’s houses, but never to save a raccoon.”

Thoughts

Hi all – long time no blog, eh?

No great insights here – just living life. Remaining mindful and aware can be a tremendous challenge in the day to day of a life with a marriage, kids, a budget.

I very much wish that some of the great Buddhist teachers had shared this life, and had commented on it. Even the Buddha stepped away from these visceral issues whilst he sought Understanding.

I love the path I’ve chosen. I love my marriage, my husband. I love my kids. I love my 2 cats and 1 dog. I love the challenge of my life – I am grateful that I have the opportunity to grow and learn so much. It’s all very good, if challenging to my mindfulness, my peace of heart. I’m content with it all.

Wanna See What Brings Me Joy Today?

Bit off topic, but OH, how grateful I am for this:
It just started, and it’s just roaring against the roof. It has been so desperately dry here – I can’t wait to hear the birds this afternoon, and the froggies singing tonight.

One Source of My Joy

Mindful Joyfulness/Joyful Mindfulness

So this is a bit of a slippery fish for me right now. An important part of my practice right now is increasing my awareness of every moment, which I am making some headway on. However, lately I’ve been struggling to be joyful when I am practicing mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh frequently speaks of recognizing our difficulties and smiling at them, but sometimes this is oh-so-hard for me. Doing this – greeting my experiences and feelings with joyful, mindful acceptance – can sometimes require a tremendous act of faith on my part. In An Introduction to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Lama Lhundrup says:

Then, through contemplating the nature of samsara, we should relinquish all desire, all wanting, all clinging to the cycle of existence and dissolve all sadness and evil-mindedness. With “sadness” the Buddha meant the sadness which arises in the beginning when we take the resolution to leave samsara behind, an uneasiness due to leaving our beloved attachments. There should be no such sadness in our mind when we are letting go of the causes of suffering (!), but rather the great joy of a firm resolve to go towards liberation and to become able to make it accessible to all others as well. In order to practice mindfulness it is very helpful to have the support of a joyful aspiration.

Mindfulness is the practice of those who are happy to get out of samsara. Our basic attitude of mind should be free of clinging to this world. Having this as our basis we can develop the four foundations of mindfulness. For this we have to practice with diligence and with a clear, precise knowing of what we are doing, with clearly understood instructions on our meditation. Mindfulness means not to be forgetful, not forgetting the object of one’s intention. Mindfulness needs to be accompanied by equanimity, a stable mind, not impressed by whatever might appear in mind, and it should be continuous, without interruption; not sometimes mindful and sometimes not. A continuous mindfulness is actually based on a deep letting go, just as Gendun Rinpoche always instructed us. Mindfulness establishes itself naturally when we have no interest for the world and let go of our worldly preoccupation.

It is this joyful aspiration that I am trying for right now.

Friday Fun

From “a radio broadcast of Lama Zopa Rinpoche speaking to the Mongolian people.

“Before the broadcast started, Venerable Sarah Thresher asked Rinpoche why Mongolia needed Buddhism. Rinpoche’s inimitable response contains the entire path to enlightenment and is certain to lift the spirits of everyone who hears it!”

Love

Via Entering the Path I found a quote by Brad Warner:

“Transcending emotions doesn’t mean you have no feelings. You have them. But you recognize them for what they are and respond appropriately without letting them develop into what we call emotions, which are really just feelings that have been blown way out of proportion.”

To an extent I agree with this. However, in my humble, unschooled opinion, he’s oversimplifying things. The breadth and depth of the palette of human emotion is a good thing, with a potential for great beauty. It’s an essential part of what it means to be human, I think. If a human incarnation is to be viewed as a precious thing – an opportunity not to be wasted – it seems to me that human emotion is something not to be wasted, as well.

Problems arise when emotional experience becomes an attachment. Recently, just as I was ending my meditation practice, I had the thought that emotional pain can very easily become an attachment if one is unable or unwilling to move beyond past experience. However, not all emotion is pain and not all emotion is attachment. One can experience intense pain, one can experience intense emotion. I don’t believe suffering is dependent on either. It’s all in how you greet your experience.

There is much emphasis in Buddhism on loving-kindness and compassion. Compassion – the root of lovingness and kindness – is an emotion. I can’t think of another way to describe it. When one practices compassion and – as a consequence – kindness, one experiences great joy. This is not (should not be) the end result of practicing loving-kindness, but it’s a wonderful lagniappe. The emotional rewards of being loving are the fruit, not the tree.

The context of Mr. Warner’s blog entry relates mostly to romantic love, so I’ll focus my comments on love, specifically. To truly know and love someone – once one has moved beyond romantic love and on to the deeper realities of everyday love – can be one of the great joys of life. Within the structure of real love (whether it be filial, marital, or what-have-you), there is a great deal of room for mindfulness, compassion and understanding. Love can provide a fantastic context for one’s daily practice – great opportunities for growth are to be found in our daily interactions. One might even argue that they are necessary for love to continue to ripen and expand.

I am a humble (I hope.), unknowledgeable student of Dharma. So perhaps I simply don’t understand the Truth of what Mr. Warner is saying. I also am not as well-read in Zen thought as I am in the other branches of Buddhism. So perhaps my lack of understanding lies there. In any case, for now, I’ll have to disagree. In my mind a feeling is an itch, and an emotion such as love – while a much “larger” issue – is still a useful experience.