Grasshopper

Grasshopper - click through to view.I stumbled upon Grasshopper tonight.  It’s a short rotoscoped film by the folks who did the film adaptation of A Scanner Darkly.  Sometimes I’m a bit slow to get to these things – it was filmed in 2003, and I’d even seen it mentioned over at the blog at Shambhala Sunspace.

In Grasshopper, park-bench philosopher AJ Vadehra expounds on astrology and more productive avenues of contemplation.  Done all in grey-green, this animated but otherwise unedited interview is a good example of what happens when you approach the right stranger with a camera. Grasshopper premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and has since played in many other festivals worldwide.

Mr. Vadehra has a lot to say in this 14 minute film.  It’s well worth a listen, in my opinion.

Being Where I Am

You Are Here

So, life continues to be interesting.  I struggle with how I feel about the difficulties that keep cropping up.  We are well off, by whole world standards, but not well off by American (US) standards.  (I’ll spare you the details, but I do not think I’m being false by saying lots of things are a current struggle.)  It is difficult to feel comfortable in my own skin right now, so I have whittled down my practice to simply trying to accept where things are and to be joyfully mindful of being alive.

Indeed, What IS in a name?

Kunzang had some interesting thoughts on names the other day.  Well, she always posts interesting blog entries, but this one in particular I had already been thinking about.

Like Kunzang, I have a more unusual name, though you’d think my (married) last name wouldn’t cause so many difficulties.  My name is Dwan Tape.  Just eight letters, but they can cause a lot of consternation amongst others, especially over the phone.  There is also a sizable contingency of folks who want to either confirm that I am misspelling my name (“It’s ‘Dawn,’ right?”) or that I’m unsure of my gender (I once had someone argue that my name was actually pronounced Duane, and that I was, therefore, male.).  I was teased alot when I was young about my name.  Believe me, I’ve heard them all – “Da-Doo-wan-wan,” “Dwan, Dwo, Dwee, Dwour” and so on.

Once, when I was about seven or eight, my class stopped by the ruins of an abbey on the way back from a field trip (My Dad was stationed in England at the time.).  I remember walking around the grounds of this abbey’s skeleton – it was dark and misty and fabulously mysterious.   Anyway, I was looking down at the grey ruins of a wall rising up out of the wet grass when one of the parent chaperones asked me – for the zillionth time – what my first name was.  I was a bit exasperated, but once again related my name and it’s four letter spelling.  She then asked my middle name, and when I complied she said – “Your name is TOO hard.  I can’t remember it.  I am going to call you [XD keeping my middle name a secret here – but it’s a more common name….].  That’s so much EASIER.”  [Emphasis hers.]

Suffice it to say, I’ve had a lot of food for thought when it comes to names and how they affect our place in the world.  There are difficulties when it comes to having a more unusual name, but on the other hand – I have never in my life had someone call my name across a crowded room and had more than just me turn my head.

My husband also has an unusual name, though less so, and we gave all three of our kids unusual names.  We got a lot of flack about that – about how having an unusual name would just be horrible for them – until we pointed out that we thought we knew better than most how that works out for a kid.  And as they have all three grown older, they really have grown into their names – I’m very glad we named them as we did.  (Forgive me for not mentioning their names – internet safety and all that….)

However I feel about it, though, my name can cause some awkwardness.  When I correspond with people who are not being perfectly mindful in their email reading, etc., I will often run into folks assuming my name is Dawn.  It is a bit of a struggle for me to decide what to do about this.  I tend to want to just let it work out on its own, but either way there’s going to be a small amount of embarrassment surrounding it.  Still – I like my name and feel that it is exactly who I am.  So I tend to want to correct the situation.

The question is – how much our names is essential to who we are?  Am I grasping, or being egotistical?  I know that the ordained of Buddhism take up new names with their new lives.  I understand that, I think – both the idea of being someone new and renouncing something old.  I understand Dharma names too, I think.

Still – I wonder – what might be a best practice be when it comes to names.  What does your name mean to you?  How important is it to you?  How important SHOULD a name be?

Whew

I’m back. Well, sort of. At least I’m trying to be. Lots to do, between work, home and little people. Anyway – I’m out here. Listening. ^_- Hopefully soon to be posting more.

Blunt honesty time: It can be intimidating for me, sometimes, trying to decide if what I have to say is interesting in the slightest, ya know? Sometimes I get hung up in a lack of self confidence. Lots of Buddhist thinking, musings, and questions cross my mind, but there’s this crabby, cowed-acting corner of my mind that tells me that it’s egotistical to think that anyone would be interested in my blogged contemplations. This has been a huge block to me lately, when it comes to writing.

Loyalty?

Just a quick post – have a lot of thoughts bumping around in my head right now, but no cohesive order to them yet. However, I found an interesting link on lotusinthemud I thought was worth pointing out. Apparently, a Quaker teacher was fired for changing her loyalty oath to reflect her nonviolent spiritual views.

A New Day…

…well, after a fashion, at least. Time for another, more concerted effort, on a lot of fronts, including everyday life.

For the moment – I found something interesting on lotusinthemud today:

facing our own boredom, impatience, and fears

Having an initial good look round is a good idea but pick’n’mix isn’t Buddhist training:

If we do a little of one kind of practice and a little of another, the work we have done in one often doesn’t continue to build as we change to the next. It is as if we were to dig many shallow wells instead of one deep one. In continually moving from one approach to another, we are never forced to face our own boredom, impatience, and fears. We are never brought face to face with ourselves. So we need to choose a way of practice that is deep and ancient and connected with our hearts, and then make a commitment to follow it as long as it takes to transform ourselves.

~ Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart

So, interesting food for thought, and an interesting counterpoint/addition to The Buddhist Blog‘s latest post.

Onions and No-Self

I’ve always thought of personal and spiritual growth as peeling back layers of an onion. The more you peel away, the closer you get to the heart of the onion. When I think about ideas of non-self, I extend this into a little joke – for if you peel away all the layers of an onion, there’s nothing left.

Not very original, I’m sure, but it’s something I’ve been thinking of.

Onion image courtesy of cobalt123.