The high cost of getting even

The title of this post refers to a section in Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, in which Carnegie writes of how people ruined their lives, friendships, and families by getting over a some issue or another. Instead of letting go and cutting their losses, the people in question did everything they could possible to gain satisfaction after being slighted. Some even spent their fortune on lawyers and court cases in order to win in the end.

So about week ago, after I wrote about a problem I was having with work, some guy suggested that I was the source of the problem. That really got me angry.

Here I am trying to teach my classes, keeping up with the paperwork of lesson planning and grading, and keeping up with my Buddhist practices and next thing you know it some other teacher was giving me grief over printer paper.

Keep this in mind, there are protocols in the Thai school system that I am still trying to grasp. The only thing I am doing right is smiling like a clown so that everyone thinks I’m happy as a clam. I am also trying to get myself prepared to teach my classes to the best of my ability. The main reason why this printer paper argument flared up was partly because I was trying to print flashcards, tests papers, and other activities so that I can teach my classes. If I did anything wrong, it is out ignorance.

I was planning to write a series of articles defending myself and my viewpoints on to things like personal responsibility and agency; that I am responsible for how I act and not responsible for how others act.

I have always tried to be as courteous as I can with the coworker in question, so that was why I was taken aback by her contentious attitude. This is especially as in Thailand it is better to act with a “cool heart” i.e. “jai-yen” than with a “hot heart” aka “jai-ron”.  So I felt she crossed the line in losing her “cool heart”. Plus, since she is an English teacher and it’s my first time in Thailand, I (perhaps wrongly) expected her to be able to least level with me little bit and explain what was the reason why she got angry instead expecting me to understand. Again, this is a case of cross-cultural communication.

But back to the whole writing a series of posts . . . .

I really wanted to show my side of the argument. I really wanted to talk about the times I had people hating on me. I wanted to write about the times I let their disdain for me get under my skin to a point I started hating myself. I also wanted to write about how I ignored other people’s disdain and prevailed. I even wanted to write about a similar situation about a friend of mine who also had a coworker with nasty designs on him, despite how he was one of the most popular people I’ve ever.

Wanting to write those posts filled my heart with such poison that I robbed myself of my happiness and peace of mind. In fact, today those emotions had a horrible effect on my teaching and even my kids didn’t want to follow my classes. I was even thinking of doing a midnight run sometime in the future and make my way back home to the good ole’ US of A.

Thankfully, through some weird mishaps in which I locked myself out of my apartment, I was forced to walk back and forth a few times between my place and the super’s house. During that walk I came to realize that there is no point in getting angry over some comment on a rant post. I was even thinking of closing this blog, but I feel like it’s going to amount to giving up. The same goes for making that midnight run. I’m staying in Thailand and I am going to make the best of it.

Here’s what I plan to do from here on out:

I’m still going to focus on my cultivation. I’m still going to write about what’s going on in my life, both good and bad. I’m still going to stay in Thailand for at least a year and try to be the best damn teacher I can be.

For those of you who is reading think I’m stupid, immature, evil, or just a plain jerk . . . . I’m sorry for that. I hope I didn’t give you an impression that I claim to be perfect because I know I am not. My reason why I am writing this blog, and practicing Buddhism, is so that I can get myself to be better man today than I was yesterday. Is my life a series a failures? Yes and no. I always do my best in everything I do, despite the fact that at times my best isn’t good enough.

 

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Spirituality and Victim-Blaming

meh

In my last post I wrote about a problem I was dealing with at work. Basically, I have this one coworker who didn’t seem to like me from the first week I started working in my school. I don’t know why, but she likes to play little passive-aggressive games with me. This is despite the fact that I do what I can to treat her like I would like to be treated: with common courtesy and respect.

At that last blog, I wrote about how she exploded on me over a small issue. That small issue happens to be over printer paper.

Some guy decided to go on my blog and write a comment about how it’s very possible I’m the problem. I am the reason why she is acting the way she does. I don’t know what to say about that since she and I haven’t known each other that long and I hardly even work with her. Besides, whenever she asked me for favors for the past three weeks I have known her I would help her out.

The guy’s comment did struck a nerve with me, not because what he says is true. It’s mainly because I think it is a whole load of BS. Plus, I’m already feeling bummed about the whole situation and this guy wants me to feel to ashamed on top of that. I have to act like I deserved to be treated like a jerk? I’m not a criminal, I’m not a bully, and I don’t go out of my way to mistreat others. Why should I feel ashamed of myself?

This type of internet squabble happened before.

I was part of a Law of Attraction social networking site. During that time, I had a friend/supervisor who went out of his way to publicly humiliate me for a whole month just because I liked a female coworker but refused to pursue her. On that site I was writing about the problem I was facing, the feelings that ran through my being, and even the solution that I found to help go through this weird drama. I was writing on my own blog space, by the way.

Funny enough, one commenter got really angry. She wrote this whole spiel of how I started all this drama and attracted all of this negativity towards me. She even went on to write how I was crazy or immature or something. And she wrote this on a post on which I wrote of how I was going to overcome BS I was dealing with.

No, I never believed that drama was all my fault. I never did any soul-searching into considering whether or not I compelled my friend to turn on me and made him an enemy. I never once blamed myself for what happened. I never saw myself as the problem.

I was able to enact the solutions I came up with and things turned out fine.

The female coworker that I liked back then and I became good friends. We never dated. To be honest, I came to realize we’re not compatible for a relationship. She’s a good person, very beautiful, and still a good friend. As for the friend/supervisor . . . . we basically stopped being friends for a long while. After a good five years, though, he and I reconciled.

So in terms of the current coworker problem, I don’t really have anything to worry about. First of all, I always do what I can to treat others well. In fact, my other coworkers and I are on good terms. Plus, I’m a very popular teacher with my students. Even my worst students, who never study or participate in my class, think I’m one cool dude.

Plus, I have these practices that I do. One of them will help give me the insight I need to go forward with this problem.

Also who knows what will happen. The coworker and I might become good friends, we might not. Worse comes to worse, I’ll never see her again next year. There’s no reason for me to rack my brain as to why she doesn’t like me. She made that choice to dislike me and she will have to live with it. The world is too big to worry about such petty issues.

I’m tempted to write why I think the whole victim-blaming mentality that is epidemic in the spiritual community is both stupid and harmful. Instead, I’m going to write about an aspect of my life that got me into practicing Buddhism in the first place. Hopefully that person who made that comment in my last post can read this:

Years ago I wanted to kill myself. The reason why I wanted to commit suicide was because I hated myself. I didn’t think there was anything good about me. Shame flowed through my blood. Shame was what I was breathing. Shame was what I dreaming. Shame was what I was digesting. There was no love. I never thought of myself as being a good person. Back then, everyone treated me like dirt—including my family.

It was then, out of a whim, that I decided to try out this Zen self-study program. Soon enough, I was able to see the good in myself. Soon enough I was able to see that I am worthy of love and that I can make the better place because of the love in my heart. There were times I was able to see things about myself that I needed to change, but I changed myself out of self-respect. I didn’t change myself out of guilt or self-hatred.

To be honest, the last thing I want is to feel sorry for myself. That’s what got me into being suicidal in the first place.

And that’s the important thing about Buddhism, it is to see the light in yourself as well as others. It is to have the wisdom to light a candle rather than cursing the darkness.

If I am not worried, why are you?

Kind regards,

Capt. Idiotic

Bad coworker karma

toxic people

Today at school I was at the teacher’s office trying to print out some flashcards, activity sheets, and a few tests so that I can be prepared for the next 2 weeks. The printer ran out of paper, so I looked around and found a packet of papers on an empty. So I opened the packet to get some papers out when one of the other teachers walked in.

Next thing you know it, she starts yelling at me in Thai, and I looked at her with surprise wondering what the hell she was saying. The first thing she knows about me is that I don’t speak Thai at all, so whatever she was saying got lost on me. The next thing is that she is an English teacher, a Thai national, but an English teacher all the same. So she could have said something so that I can understand what was bothering her.

She finally realized that I didn’t understand her so she switched to English, accusing me of stealing other people’s paper. I told her I had no idea it was someone else’s pack of paper because it was on an unused desk and that no one told me where to find any other packets of paper for printing. She still talked to me like a complete jerk but she calmed down a bit.

Out of all the teachers in the school, she is the only one I do not trust. We get along well for the most part, but then she gets a little nit-picky, always trying to bring attention to every little flaw in me. She even one time got me to substitute her class so she can gossip with her friends just because I told her I was free.

A lot is going through my mind as I am typing this post.

Maybe she has self-esteem issues. Maybe she was the only one opposed to my working in the school. Maybe she hates brown people. She has her reasons, however, unreasonable they are. Would she tell them to me? Not if she wants us to get along. Of course I speak from previous experience that some people just want to hate others just so they have an excuse to act as mean or as petty as they want. Hell the one American back in Korea who obsessively tried to do whatever he could to make my life miserable refused to tell me why he hated me, even years after the fact when I emailed him!

The most important thing for me to do is to keep up with my cultivation practices. Every morning I will be sure to work out and do qigong. Every afternoon I will be sure to do yoga and taiji. Every evening I will be sure to do the Nichiren liturgy. Every day I will see to it that I meditate twice a day. If I can find the perfect solution to deal with her, then that’s great. If not, as long as I cultivate myself to a higher degree then there is nothing she can do to get me out of my good vibes.

Now to watch an episode of Police Squad to get my sense of humor back.

 

Chapter 1, Section 4: Surrender even the sins

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Summary:

In this section, Master Kim relates a story about two monks during the time the Buddha was alive in India.

As they forsook society, both monks were meditating in the mountains. One of them has a sister who would always bring supplies to them.

One day, one of the monks went on a journey. Nevertheless, his sister still came by to bring their supplies. Once she was there, both her and the other monk were so overcome with passion that they both made love.

Since the monk broke his vow of celibacy, he was banished from the order.

When the other monk returned, upon hearing the circumstances surrounding his friend’s banishment, was so enraged that he killed his sister.

Both ex-monks from then on lived in shame and devastation over their past misdeeds. They went and asked Venerable Upali, one the Buddha’s original disciples, if there is any hope for redemption or salvation for them. He replied that the men had no hope, even if they repented for their past misdeeds.

Vimalakirti happened to walking by and as he heard the conversation, he decided to give a talk to the three. He expounded the nature of the mind and also the nature of sin, and that when the mind is pure sin itself is also purified. When one is attached to their ego, he or she lives in delusion. One is isn’t attached to their ego, then one lives in purity.
Just so you know, I really have no idea what Vimalakirti actually meant, so what I wrote is a really bad interpretation of his words. If you want to read the actual text, I recommend either Master Kim’s book or reading the 3rd chapter of the Vimalakirti Sutra, where this story originated from.
Thereupon hearing the lecture, the two ex-monks wholeheartedly went back into their practice.

My commentary

This story reminds of something I have read from the Dhammapada:
Book 1
17. The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suffers in both the worlds. The thought, “Evil have I done,” torments him, and he suffers even more when gone to realms of woe.
18. The doer of good delights here and hereafter; he delights in both the worlds. The thought, “Good have I done,” delights him, and he delights even more when gone to realms of bliss.
By the way, I highly recommend the book. I recommend anyone of any philosophical bent to read the work from cover to cover. It is one of the most life-changing volumes I have ever encountered. If you can’t buy the book, you can find the full text easily on the internet for you to download.

Many of us have done things that we later regret. The problem is, we cannot change the past and sometimes we are still affected by our erstwhile idiocy.

I remember this one clip from the 1970s TV show, Kung-Fu, in which a young Kwai Chang-Caine expressed to his Master Po about feeling shame. Master Po then told Caine, “To feel shame for no cause is a waste. To feel shame for cause is also a waste; for you must rather spend time correcting that of which you are ashamed.”

From what I’ve read, most psychologists would say that Master Po was talking less about shame and more about guilt; as guilt is regret over one’s actions and shame is regret over one’s identity involved with the actions.

For what it’s worth, I agree with Master Po’s words. If you did something wrong, seek to correct your mistakes and see to it that you don’t do it again. Just because you made a mistake, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Making mistakes is a part of growing up and we never stop growing up.

Of course, in Master Kim’s take on the story, one of the monks killed his sister. For lots of us, including myself, it is hard to swallow to have him simply forgive himself and move on in life . . . which was more or less what Vilmakirti seemed to say.

It reminds of a time when for no reason I was browsing through a prison penpal website. I came across one inmate who listed himself as a Buddhist.

To this day I regret not writing to him.

Buddhism is not meant for perfect people. It’s meant for the worst of us, the flawed, the immature, the ignorant. It is to help us change ourselves so that we can better today than we were yesterday and that we can be better tomorrow than we are today. If perfection is required for us to practice Buddhism, then there is no point in practicing. Buddhism would then be a useless, moot philosophy.

To study and learn from a Buddhist convict means learning a lot of forgiveness, compassion, and redemption from someone who actually reached his lowest point in life. The insights he could have shared with me would be the most profound I could ever imagine.

Who knows? Maybe when I return stateside, I could find another Buddhist convict and correspond with him.

Yours truly,
Capt. Idiotic

How do I Buddha (Ver. 2)

bhikkhu book boy buddhism
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Now that I am living in Thailand, things have changed and I have been trying to create a balanced schedule of work, fun, and cultivation.

Basically this is how it goes. Every morning I meditate for 8 minutes, do 5-15 minutes of zhan zhuang qigong, and then 15-20 minutes of what I called the KBX workout (Kickboxing basic exercises). After I get ready to leave my apartment, I will chant the Nichiren mantra as I walk to work.

In the evening, I will meditate again for 15 minutes and then do the Nichiren liturgy.

A lot of factors has influenced this new regimen. First of all, I work early in the morning so I can only afford so much time to cultivation. Working out first thing after I wake up will help in weight loss as well.

I would like to do something more hardcore when it comes to exercise, like training like a black belt, but the biggest problem is the food situation. My company set me up with an apartment but has no kitchen nor refrigerator. The restaurants around my neighborhood also close around 7-8PM. This means if I workout right after school, then I might not make it in time for dinner. If I eat right after I leave work, then I have to wait 2 hours until I can exercise. By the time I am done exercising, I would be sleeping too late. So the KBX workout I am doing will be enough to help me improve my health.

The main reason why I am not doing a proper Nichiren liturgy in the morning is mainly for time. I have to make sure I get to school and prepare for my classes and I can’t spend too much time in my spiritual work. So chanting the Nichiren mantra in the morning while doing the liturgy in the evening is the best I can do.

I still want to study and write my commentary on Master Kim Jae Woong’s book. The biggest problem comes down to when. I teach a lot of classes during the week, but I also have a lot of paperwork to do. At the same time, I really really have to study Thai in order to be able to live in this small village. At the same time, my previous is expecting some work from me as I am now a consultant of sorts.

Still, I shouldn’t worry. As long as I keep my mind on my goals, I will get to where I need to be.

Yours truly,

Capt. Idiotic

 

How’s it going 10/31/2018

sadness

 

This isn’t supposed to be a travel blog. Still being in Thailand is going to have an effect on my Buddhist practice. My Buddhist practice is going to have an effect in my being in Thailand.

That one week I abstained from practice, I spent most of my time trying to prepare for my trip. The week after, I was in Bangkok attending my training session. I’ve been many times to Seoul, New York, and Beijing. I’ve also visited Chicago, San Francisco, New Delhi, and Tokyo. So believe me when I say Bangkok is a city on a different level.

After experiencing this thing called Bangkok, I finally was taken to my assigned school and town. I knew it was going to be rural but I had no idea what rural meant until I arrived.

For one thing, there is little public transportation out of here. Maybe there is a bus that comes by twice a day, but I don’t know. My Thai agents who assigned me here have no idea. There is very little to do here as well little to buy. I can’t even buy a yoga mat! My immediate supervisor speaks very little English and is a bit distant. I also live in a hut. There is electricity and running water but the . . . . “indoor plumbing” makes my stomach turn.

On the other hand, my landlord/super speaks some English and he’s a nice guy. While my immediate supervisor is a bit cool, the other teachers are friendly. I took an instant liking to some of them. Also, I happened to meet an English expat in my neighborhood.

I’m trying to convey that my mood is like a sine wave. I would regret my coming to this country to feeling glad I did; then I am back to missing home and then back to enjoying my time here.

I have to be honest, I know I will go insane staying here.

I have my 6 month Zen Study. I have the Nichiren practice. I have a Taiji self-study course. I am also going to study the Master Key System. Considering that I am a third-world environment, I can really test out whether these practices and teachings have any merit for anyone.

Kind regards,

Capt. Idiotic

How it’s going 10/18/2018

800px-The_Skating_Minister

My apologies for beating a dead horse on the topic, but the drama I faced back in South Korea has always on the back of my mind ever since I decided to move abroad again.

One specific part of the drama refers to the American EPIK teacher I met over there. It was always a struggle for power. He wanted to control me and I was fighting to save my autonomy. I failed in my fight considering the times he either manipulated or browbeat me into doing whatever he wanted me to do. The few times I did not succumb to his wants meant putting up with his passive-aggressive insults or having him spread rumors about me in order to blacken my reputation. He was quite a vindictive character.

Funny enough, I emailed him a couple years later asking him what I did to incur his hostile behavior. The crazy part is that he was very evasive and didn’t want to tell me what caused him to act the way he did.

I cannot help but think I did nothing wrong and he just wanted to act like a jerk.

It’s a fact of life that people are irrational. There are times people do things that are completely mean-spirited, stupid, and just plain nuts. I suspect they do these things in order to feed their ego and make themselves feel superior.

I knew a guy from the American South who tried would try to start a fight with me just because I was a born and raised many miles north of the Mason-Dixon line. At my last job every time the boss did something my coworker disagreed with, he would try to sabotage my work to make my life more annoying. Steve Martin one time tweeted a very beautiful tribute to his friend Carrie Fisher only to be bullied by keyboard warriors into deleting said tweet. One popular internet personality, James Rolfe, made a video response to his fans about why he didn’t want to watch the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters and then was subjected to a slew of articles and tweets denouncing him as a misogynist.

Again, all these people needed to do was to think about their problems and how to resolve them, rather than get overtaken by their emotions and perform these anti-social, hateful acts. That’s how it should be done in a perfect world and this world isn’t perfect.

I’ve written before that while I’m flying to Bangkok I’m going to read a book on emotional blackmail. That still stands.

However, in my experience, I know the best way to overcome petty bullies is to find ways to improve oneself. It may not get the other person to love or respect me, but at least I can find the tools I need to handle those misanthropes.

As always, I will continue with my Nichiren practice and will still study the works of Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong.

In the morning, I’m going to do a lighter version of the Zen study program. It’ll involve a 15 minute standing qigong exercise, 10 minutes of meditation, and 15 minutes of cardio kickboxing.

In the evening, I am going to study and practice the Master Key System. I might start another blog about this or I might integrate it with the other practices I do.

If possible, I might do the old fashion japa meditation in which I fold my hands, close my eyes, and concentrate fully in chanting “Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” I would do that everyday for at least 5 minutes.

If I do have more time I will do the more intensive martial arts practice that I have been planning to do and I might even take up practicing taiji.

Here’s to hoping.

Kind regards,

Captain Idiotic