Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Affirm Life: Do not kill

I was going to write about the ten grave precepts today... then five... and now I think one will do... especially as it is getting late.

Tonight we had the Bodhisattva Precepts Ceremony, which we do once a month close to the full moon. I liked especially our discussion before the ceremony about karma, confession, and repentance. Usually Buddhists don't use those words... and yet all of us have messed up at one time or another... and we need to learn (from Dogen, the monk who brought Zen from China to Japan) how to "practice" with that sticky karma.

The precept "Do not kill" is different that the Judeo/Christian commandment, "Thou shall not kill." The Buddhist precept is much broader. Some monks wouldn't go out on a path during certain seasons because they didn't want to step on an insect. But not because they'd go to hell, but rather because they care so much for life that they wanted to do everything they could to "affirm" it. And it is based on experience, not prescription. We see what happens when we kill, and we then avoid doing it. But what are we avoiding... that varies widely from person to person.

Every day I get an email "Daily Dharma." Today it was:
My sense is that there is a very real problem among Western Buddhist practitioners. We are attempting to practice meditation and to follow a spiritual path in a disembodied state, and our practice is therefore doomed to failure. The full benefits and fruition of meditation cannot be experienced or enjoyed when we are not grounded in our bodies. The phrase from the early text, when understood fully, implies not only that we are able to touch enlightenment with our bodies, but that we must do so--that in fact there is no other way to touch enlightenment except in and through our bodies.
-Reggie Ray, "Touching Enlightenment" (Spring 2006)
I thought that was terrific. As I sat tonight, I tried to see that it was my body sitting. I (whoever that might be) had put my body on the cushion. Suddenly my mind and its ramblings were not important.

My body is on the cushion, not killing, not harming, not doing evil. It is not trying to be "good" because of the fear of any consquences. It is simply that this is how it wants to be.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Three Pure Precepts

After the three treasures comes the three pure precepts. To me, the three treasures would be enough because, being awakened (dream on) would lead one to realize 1) that all is one and 2) that hurting something is hurting all (including the hurter).

But for the unawakened, the three pure precepts are:
1. Not creating evil
2. Practicing good
3. Actualizing good for others

Not creating evil: sometimes we are reminded that when we sit we aren't doing harm. Of course, if someone has slipped in the mud and we continue to sit rather than helping them up then we are doing harm by sitting. Not creating evil is difficult as an action. I suppose withholding one's tongue or fist might be an example. This precept seems to be about restraint. Though I suspect as I think about this more I'll figure out some means of uneviling... maybe a little different than practicing good.

(Added the next morning.) I woke up realizing that restraint (or restraining) is a verb. It is similar to renunciation in that one chooses one path rather than another. So practicing restraint is not just not doing... but actually doing. Restraining from not being conscious as I walk across the zendo, I pay attention to the feel and bounce of the floor.

Practicing good: sometimes we justify good action by our intention. Students often want a good grade because they worked so hard. I like the praise "work smart." I'm suspicious when we think we know what someone else needs or wants. I like to think of practicing good as practicing awareness of our actions. For example, when I walk into the zendo unintentionally, the floor squeaks like mad and everyone is disturbed. Even the old floor itself is disturbed, shaken from a deep sleep by an unthinking homosapien. On the other hand, when I walk on the earth "as if it is my mother's face" I reflect an harmonious connection between the two of us. That, to me, is "practicing good."

Actualizing good for others: This is a tough one for me. I don't know what might be good for others. I see modeling as one means toward helping others. Caring is certainly another way. I suppose that encouraging others to do good (whatever that might mean) and providing the means when possible is the most we can do.

Monday, March 29, 2010

16 Precepts: the Three Treasures

Saturday I will be participating in a jukai ceremony, taking the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts. I'm going to write about the precepts each of the next three nights. My teacher asked me what the precepts meant to me the other day and I said it meant to treat things with care. He suggested rather it was "caring," the gerund.

The first three precepts constitute the "Three Treasures" and are also called the "Three Refuges." They are;
I take refuge in the Buddha
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha

It certainly is not refuge in the sense of hiding behind. Rather it is the opposite—coming out. The Buddha, for me, represents the part of us that is our true nature. It is who we truly are when we shed our skin (our ego). It also refers to one who is awake and sees things as they are. It is us when we do that as well.

The Dharma, literally referring to the teachings of the Buddha, figuratively means to me what one sees when they are awake. It is the truth about things (so to speak), though constructed in our minds (and hearts).

I think the order of these is important. The Buddha are our six senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, mind(ing). It is what we "bring in" with the senses that is our dharma (teachings).

Next is the Sangha, which literally refers to a community of monks, but now refers to those with whom we practice. Figuratively, the Sangha is much broader, for we practice with all things in a shared universe. Nothing is not our Sangha. We take refuge in the Sangha in the sense that we have become cognizant of ourselves as a jewel in a web of interrelated jewels (Indra's Web).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Putting the story aside

My aunt Reggie, a psychotherapist, asked me a similar question, "Putting your story aside, what is really going on?"

We get that when our friend is telling us what a miserable or beautiful day they had, don't we?

So now it is 15+ hours later. Spend the day sitting again... and thought much about Chris's post on Facebook about Gary Becker.

But first, the question (what is this?). I wasn't sitting too long when an answer appeared. "Nothing." After the stories goes, maybe there isn't anything left that is real (not that the stories are real either, but they try harder.)

Then I started to formulate all kinds of replies to Chris, who wrote that the health care bill was legislation as important as social security and medicare. I was in the "this is right and this is wrong" mentality.

I then started thinking about how I could be equanimous in regards to politics. Why not? Wasn't I falling into the same trap as Chris did, taking one side and not seeing that each side really have their points. Sure, social security has saved a lot of lives. And, sure, it probably hasn't given some a very big bang for their buck. The point is that we need to try to see it from all sides.

I had another dokusan with roshi (teacher)... and first told her "the answer" that nothing is left. Then we talked about how to be equanimous and still be able to act. We talked about Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, both very political. She mentioned a formula that seemed to make sense: equanimous + discernment=action. Then she said a few times, "what is it" and rang the bell, indicating our session was over.

She told me about an Indian tribe near Syracuse where she lives. When the elders have a discussion, they put a pumpkin on the table to remind them to see all sides of the situation and they all work to understand the problem from all perspectives... and eventually they come up with a solution. Compare that to our system of nay and aye-sayers!

I didn't know if she asked "what is it" again because it is one of those things that you have to keep asking oneself... or if she wanted me to keep asking the question because I need to work more on the answer. Or both. Maybe I'll find out next year when she returns.

And now my knee hurts from bending it for 27 1/2 hours. I guess I got what I paid for.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is it?

I survived the day with 15 hours of meditation (and other sundry activities). The best part, besides the incredibly Ōryōki meals cooked by the Austin Zen Center's tenzo, Koji, was spending 5 minutes in dokusan (private meeting) with the the visiting teacher, Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi. I told her a bunch of stuff, not too unlike what I have been writing about. She was compassionate about the stuff that hurt... but then said, "putting all that aside, what is it?" What a great question to work on for the rest of my life. Perhaps I ought to start a new blog?

I googled the question and found nothing of interest. So back to the drawing board. 

And now, two days later, I remembered that I got the question wrong. It is: what is this?

Friday, March 26, 2010


Today was better. The sun shined, and the dump truck didn't hurt our old pecan tree.

As I walked my daughter's dog tonight, I thought about how she almost lost her hearing because a licensed chiropractor (and also chiropractic teacher) failed to see that she had a bad ear infection. So those who think that licensing of doctors protects patients ought to reconsider their arguments. Certainly one case doesn't prove anything. But we get a false sense of security from licensing. And it creates for doctors a monopoly. See: to read more articulate arguments for the ending of licensing.
Tomorrow I go and sit facing a wall for 15 hours, less time for breaks, temple cleaning, walking, eating (done from three bowls sitting on a cushion). During this time, no talking and no looking at others. We'll see what kind of picture I do after all that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


In the last month or two I've lost the ability to multi-task. Can't do the radio in the car, or the TV when I'm doing stuff on the computer. I read that older people can't multitask as well. Maybe I'm older?

Sometimes when lots is going on I wonder how Obama survives a day. The number of pies that he has his fingers in has to be close to the number of stars in the sky. How does he do it?

So finally people came for the dirt. Just took the ad off Craig's list... and turned down another taker. Tomorrow the gravel arrives. It will be quite an epoch day to go from mud to red paths.

Tonight I go to a play, Picasso at Lapin Agile. I saw it three years ago and wrote a little bit about it.

At my favorite Mexican restaurant this morning I told the owner that they make my favorite food in the world. I said that when I'm on death row I'm going to order it as my last meal. Then we started talking about food in Mexico and I said the ingredients are better there. I was at a farm in Mexico and the grandmother was grinding the corn on a stone on the floor of the barn... and the chickens had just laid some eggs. She said "when was that" and when I told her "1981," she laughed and said "not any more."

It was a good production... but I never like to see the characters of my heros defined by their shortcomings (Picasso/womanizer and Einstein/klutz). These guys are my gods.

Then arrived home with our yard flooding. Yikes! That's what you get for trying to get a sprinkler system fixed. Yikes! Yikes!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Inlaws, Republicans, and Insurance Profits

My in-laws, whom I love dearly, are Republicans, with a capital "R." I asked my wife's mother if she'd vote for either of my kids, if they were running for President on the Democratic ticket. "I vote Republican," was the answer. She really loves our kids, but is unwavering in her support of the Republican party.

I remember that my dad voted once for the candidate who did not represent the majority in the Senate and House. I asked him why, and he said that he thought less harm would be done if the president was totally ineffective. What would happen if every time we asked for help we got a busy signal? It would be interesting to see what alternative services would arise.

One of yesterday's commenters to this blog mentioned the obscene profits of insurance companies. So I decided that I'd look into it. Here's one blog that indicates that, compared with a number of other industries, their profits aren't that obscene.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My friend wrote and asked if I was going to use medicare when I turn 65 (1.2 years). Of course I'll use something that I'm paying for. I'm doubtful if not using it would be a protest of any significance. The real issue for me is this. I don't like someone taking my money and then deciding how it should be spent. Sure I'm grateful that people 65 and older don't have to worry too much about their medical bills... but I'm not happy about the coercive nature of this gift. And I suspect the actual cost, including the fraud, is tremendous.

So the landscaper who was supposed to come after lunch yesterday called and said he'd come tomorrow... and the other landscaper—I called and he said he'd come today after lunch... but then he called and said he'd come at 3:30 PM and now it is 3:44 PM... so much for promises.

A friend gave me a diamond to sell for her. I have two places that will take it on consignment. One says they will sell it for 2/3 of what the other one will sell it for. I'll try the place that will sell it for more rather than less... but we'll see. I did learn that diamonds are not forever... unless it is forever........depreciating.

We had lots of dirt to give away. We put ads on Craig's List, and various neighborhood elists. Someone called an hour ago. They were going to come in 20 minutes. And one of the landscapers did show up... but he wants the dirt later this week. I won't hold my breath.

I've been thinking too about the range of quality of doctors. Some are butchers. Others are able to help people. Is the health care that was just passed good health care? It was announced that 1/3 of births are Caesarian. Most think that is about 18% too many. Is that good health care?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Promises to Keep

Robert Frost wrote, "I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep." We waited today for a landscaper who promised to come after lunch, and another landscaper who promised to come after lunch. And we aren't perfect, but we also are readily available by all the communication schemes... so why couldn't they call or write or ?

And my priest friend wrote me long emails objecting to my point of view expressed in my blog yesterday. In Buddhism you hear talk about trying not to have a position, but toward being equanimous. I've hardly met a Buddhist who was able to pull that off. Usually they are like the rest of us, full of opinions.  I suspect any system will work ok if the people are behind it. It is unfortunate that there is such a division now in the house, so to speak. Sometimes that may be the cost of progress.

And in the Scientific American there was an article about a study of many societies to see which ones acted fairly toward strangers. It seemed that the subsistence societies with a local religion didn't treat strangers very well, but that societies with established markets and a world religion did much better. Personally I'm suspicious about every study I read about. I know that someday someone else will do a study to prove the opposite.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Coffee Filters

My wife drinks coffee. I try every couple of years, but I get addicted quickly and start doing nothing but drink coffee. So I drink none. Yesterday she ran out of filters. Someone on the adjoining neighborhood elist wrote that they had half of box of #4 filters to give away.  So I figured, why not? I wrote and she said I could have them. She was happy she didn't have to throw them away. That's Austin for you. So I drove by and got them. She had left them on her porch.

What I didn't ask was whether they were funnel or basket filters. And, as one might expect, since there is no such thing as a free lunch, they were the wrong kind. But Linda will take them to the pottery studio... so they'll be able to live out a long life.
In the meantime, the house will probably have voted on the Health Care bill before I finish the drawing for this posting. I read today an article Milton Friedman wrote a few years ago about a chapter in the novel "The Cancer Ward" where Alexander Solzhenitsyn compares "private medical practice" with "universal, free, public health service" through the words of an elderly physician whose practice predated 1918. Health "care" now has a different meaning when the doctor works for an organization (be it an HMO or an insurance company or Medicare) rather than for the patient. Is this the world we want? As one of my colleagues used to remind us, "careful what you wish for." 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tibet: Beyond Fear

Last night I vowed never to watch sentient being cruelty again. And then tonight I went to a screening of Michael Perlman's film depicting the plight of the Tibetans who are treated so horribly by the Chinese. The point articulated at the beginning of the Earthlings was that people in power overuse that power. It applied here.

I have great fear that the health care plan being voted on tomorrow is a step toward the nationalization of one of our biggest industries. Yes, there are serious health care problems in the US. But no, nationalization is not the solution. I see the health care bill as a slippery slope to nationalize industries and subsequently eliminate freedoms. And (you may think I'm paranoid) as I watched the Chinese oppression of the Tibetans I wondered whether we are leading ourselves to the same oppression. Silly? Then read on.

After the film, Michael was asked what it was like to return to a free country after being in Tibet. He described how he wanted his friends in 2004 to protest the Republican National Convention in NYC, but that his friends weren't going to participate because they were worried about the police video taping them (which they were doing). Fear shouldn't quiet people down.

Reminds me of Martin Luther King many years ago. He had just moved to town and was asked to join a march. He said no, that he had to look out for his family. A few days later he changed his mind and became the hero that we know and admire.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Earthlings (Don't Watch!)

I told my wife I was going to watch Earthlings, the animal cruelty documentary. She said, fine, but don't tell me anything about it.

Bravely, I turned it on (with my door closed). I watched a minute or so... and then thought maybe I better try later. Now it is later, and I tried again. Trust me that the disconnect between the nicely packaged food in the supermarket and the way animals are treated is such that I can't imagine anyone eating the packaged food if they knew of the way animals are treated... at least as portrayed in the film.

I couldn't watch more than a couple more minutes. I packaged up the DVD and will put it in the mail box tomorrow. Enough is enough. My wife was right (as usual).

Picture Frame

Thursday, March 18, 2010


NYTimes had an article today saying that cruelty of animals leads to further violence. A movie trailer that I saw a couple of days ago (Netflix is sending me the movie tomorrow) depicts the cruelty to animals that we eat. What I don't understand is the double standard many apply to animals. If they are pets, treat them like royalty...and if they are livestock, anything goes. In fact, the article pointed out that "In Idaho, which is one of the states without a felony cruelty penalty, farmers and ranchers are pushing a bill that would more clearly distinguish livestock from pets and would exempt livestock from the protections afforded pets."

So what's the deal? We slaughter one animal to feed another? Who are we kidding?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A New Version of Life

So I had a teacher who said "listen to everyone and believe no one." The Buddha said the same thing, that you shouldn't believe his teachings because he said it. Rather, believe it if your experience verifies his words. 

My Buddhist sewing teacher showed me how to remove chalk marks from my sewing. It didn't work very well. I asked her if I could wash it... and she said no... but then explained to me how to wash it (was there a double message here?). In any case I washed it... and got rid of many of the chalk marks... and then removed more with a fancy eraser. But it is rippled a bit... so I thought I'd find another godless religion, or jump off a bridge after watching a movie trailer about people who do that... or maybe just confess in my blog and leave it at that. So now my sewing is clean and a little dimensional. And since I sit facing the wall in the zendo... who will notice?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


So it wasn't how I wanted it. 
I wanted lines and I just got dots and it was terrible. 
Finally I figured it out. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

It is dark and late

So he said dilusion and illusion are different.

Photo Thoughts

It is amazing to me that, from the beginning of photography, practitioners realized that they had to be "artful" when they made pictures. Just the act of exposing the film didn't amount to much. And yet, when I look out a window, I see interesting vistas in every direction. How is that? Why aren't all pictures good? I wouldn't have thought in 1837 that photography would become the artform that it has. And I'm equally surprised how few great photos there really are... compared to how many are taken. And how most snapshots are just that... at least until they are taken out of context.

Photography's function as documentation: it certainly plays a role at taking us away from the moment. We want to preserve the past so it will not leave. We weren't there when it was happening... we were in another past. And we aren't here now... we are in still another past (or future). I like the newspaper. The pictures come and go. They have a short life, and the columns make way for the next moment. Seems a lot healthier than preserving everything in stone.

Photography's function as an expressive art medium: I have no idea how to tell someone how to make an expressive photo. Any formula would fail. The most poignant scene (for me, a kid laying in the street with a crushed red wagon) doesn't make a good photo. Nor does the most beautiful mountain. I prefer mundane subjects as some others do. The two compliments I hate to hear: what a beautiful mountain and what a beautiful print. Neither seems to address what the artist accomplished.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Very Special Day

I meant to throw this out 
(I was going through old files) 
but somehow it popped up in Photoshop, 
begging to be reborn.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Face of Now

Now is the only face that we see. 
And yet we don't see it because our minds are everywhere but here.

How I Got Thin

Hans writes: Kim was fascinated with the Photoshop fakery from this magazine's cover, taking note of the discrepancy between forearm and body. I wasn't terribly concerned about it.

Mexican Restaurant

I went to Elsies with my friend Hans, who is visiting AUS from STL. It was hard to find since it seemed to be at a different location than it was before. In any case, neither of us were thrilled with our meal... though I didn't admit it. This is an example of a photo assignment I used to give where a student was supposed to focus on the space between things.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

6 churches in one day

I'd love to hear what going to 6 churches in one day was like if you have time, which ones and your impressions and reactions?

I must have been around 12 years old. Bruce asked me to go to church with him... so I asked my mom. She said, no, that I was too impressionable. At the time I grew up my parents were atheists (years later they claimed that they were always agnostics (doubting, but not sure)). Both of my parents were Jews. My mom had an uncle (Lewis Browne) who had been a rabbi but gave it up partly because he saw a need to be part of a world rather than part of a tribe (my words, not his). My dad, as a kid, lived with an orthodox grandfather who prayed all day long. One day in Lebanon a bomb came through the roof and landed right next to the grandfather. The praying continued and the bomb did not go off. Then they both ended up at the University of Chicago where they learned that nothing is true that we can't prove with the scientific method. God was not provable, and therefore did not exist.

I'm not quite sure if I snuck out, or if my mom had a change of heart... but soon I started going to churches on Sunday. I found nice people who were willing to talk about their beliefs. I even joined a Baptist youth group. Baptists at the Univ. of Chicago were as liberal as they come... so liberal that the minister said that you believe in God if you imagine him. So I now believe in King Kong too.

When I was younger, maybe 6 or 8 years old, I remember walking past this great wall of St. Thomas Catholic Church. The wall was solid, and I imagined that the afterlife was on the other side of the wall. Why shouldn't it be a few blocks from where you grow up? One time I went to that church and thought it was awe-inspiring to hear the Latin and to see the seriousness of everyone, but boring that it went on so long. I think I ate the wafer and drank the wine. Little did I know that it was the blood of Christ.

Now, back to when I was 12 and doing religious globetrotting. I suspect they were: Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Quaker meeting, Catholic, and a couple of others. I was an atheist, but loved the spiritual feeling of the churches. Something seemed to be missing from my parents' analysis of the world. There was too much that we just don't know.

The Rights of Parents, by Pauline Mosley

(written between the early to mid-1950s) (facsimile)

When Mrs. Golden called me she asked whether I would speak to a group of very interested women who had been doing a considerable of thinking for themselves but now wanted to hear someone else speak. I told Mrs. Golden that I would be glad to speak with such women but that all I would say was — Think for yourselves some more, because the best authority or experts on Parenthood I know are Parents themselves.

Maybe we are not expert enough — Then we must become more expert.

Maybe we don't think enough — Then we must think more.

Maybe we don't know how to think. Then we will need help and mental exercise.

If we depend on the others to tell us how to live, how to rear our children, and what to believe, I think we are doomed to confusion, insecurity, and turmoil.

Parents have been told so many things about what he should or should not do by so many authorities I wonder he has survived at all.

I've wondered for a long while why so many people take such joy in belittling parents. Why should anyone belittle the most conscientious hard working group in our society.

I do not tell parents they are good or fine or smart because I want to flatter. Rather I say it because I think it for the most part is true and also because I think without self-confidence in ourselves and our beliefs we cannot adequately function.

And I do not speak of a state of pig-headedness, conceit, or dogmatic conviction. I speak of a self-confidence which comes from knowing ourselves — our capacities and our limitations. A self-confidence which comes from new learnings and constant development.

I know what I offer parents is not easy — Quite the contrary — I place upon ourselves a great responsibility — that of being our own expert — of finding our own answers easier. But I believe that if we demand that each parent be his own expert — only then will we have parents who can rear children who can survive this very tipsy-topsy world.

Let us examine for a few moments some of the things parents have been instructed to do and see if it is really possible to instruct in this business of parenthood. Let me repeat — I do not refer to men of science who observe and try to draw conclusions from his observation.

(1) We are told to love our children. Love is an emotion and I don't know how we can teach a parent love if he doesn't have it. I think if parents would stop listening to every Tom Dick and Harry about love and would stop and examine their own feelings about their own children and would permit their own natural love instincts to shine they would know how to express their love.

Do your remember John Watson and his school of Behaviorism and his strict schedule. Your baby is born, says he like a lump of damp clay — Be strict, be rigid don't spoil don't kiss, Mothers are wicked. Marriage is doomed. Parents believed him. Thousands followed him, and babies starved for affection.

And more recently, we hear a lot about self-demand — interpreted to mean — if your baby cries — you jump — and lots of little unhappy tyrants resulted. But who is saying and who has said — Parents, examine yourself, What do you want to do? What do you think is right? I for one prefer a Mother's or Father's natural instincts which come out when we express ourselves freely and the good that comes from the love and self-confidence of following one's natural instincts. I think we can depend on these instincts.

Have you ever had the experience of watching a mother monkey and her child — and wondered who taught the monkey her love protection warmth?

I think human beings are as good as monkeys — they too can love and protect their children if we will only let them be human and protect their children.

(2) But — some will say what of that dangerous human emotion called Hate. If we are not instructed on how to curb our hate — what will happen to our children. I think parents have been instructed on how to curb their hates. The only difficulty is again — we can't instruct about emotions — what we feel we feel — repress or conceal — so many parents have learned to smile outwardly and hate inwardly — result — colitis, ulcers — and all kinds of civilized ills — on the children's parts — all kinds of vague subtle methods of meeting these new fashioned repressed hates.

Far safer I think — is the parent who says and does what he feels naturally and with assurance — our children can safely respond to our natural expressions of hate — He can take hold of these freely expressed hates — examine them and throw them back to us if he doesn't like them.

I suppose I'm asking for honesty about our emotions — honesty about ourselves with ourselves and with our children. Let's not tell our children they're darlings when they behave like brats — they know what they are, and they will respect us a lot more if they know we are honest with them — and true honesty is an honesty about our feelings

But — you will say — people change — we do not have to remain hateful. Fortunately, this is true. People can improve until the day they are no more.

But we do not improve thru instruction, or formulas, or techniques. Rather thru self examination — self improvement and a desire for self-development.

And now you might ask Does it hurt to listen to experts so-called. I think it can and I think often it does artificially.

And this is how it can hurt us.

A Mother reads that a good mother nurses her baby — for many reasons she doesn't or can't nurse her baby. What is the result? Guilt. A Guilt which hurts her and her baby far more than the loss of the breast ever could.

A Mother reads that a good mother never spanks her child. While Mother restrains herself Johnny teases until Mother hits. What is the result? Guilt. A guilt which hurts Johnny and Mother far more than a good wallop ever could.

The authorities say baby's bath should be fun time — and maybe it should but some mothers don't enjoy giving babies baths — it hurts their backs, and they like other things more — but authorities say that if they are good parents they will enjoy it. — Result Guilt — far more harmful to Mother and child than a brisk rub-down could ever be.

In our household we have three children and we get thru bath time very fast — why — we prefer to linger at the dinner table and to do lots of other things. But some authorities say and let me quote "the parents who really want children are never content to let their baby's bath be simply something they do to get him clean. For most of them the bath becomes fun time.

Take the advice given on the question of diapers. Be comradely when you change your babies diapers. Your aim should not be just to get your baby clean. You should enjoy I think a pretense at pleasure — where there is no pleasure can harm far more than just getting the baby diapered. He begins to wonder what's wrong with a diaper a parent has to try so hard to enjoy.

You all know I could go on endlessly about what good parents according to authorities are supposed to do or not to do. To feel or not to feel.

But let me repeat — examine yourselves — find your own answers through self examination and self development. Its hard work — but it is the only method I know that does work.

Sure read, listen, all your can — but always keep in mind that we can't be told — we 've got to find. out tor ourselves in the form of prescription.

And now about the rights of parents

I have all kinds of books, articles pamphlets in my library. None of them talk about the rights or parents. Some or them hint at it. Some suggest it. But nobody I know has made a real point of it. Why? I've been wondering why.

Are the rights of Parents unimportant?

Are the rights of Parents to be taken for granted?

Are the rights of Parents already clarified?

Or should Parents have rights?

I believe we have a complicated topic here. But one should attempt to answer. I believe that we can find some good answers together.

Always when I am trying to think a problem thru I ask my children what they think. I have a deep respect for little children. I think they are terribly smart. I think they think well. They haven't, been as contaminated by the thoughts of others as we have. They are honest.

So I asked my children — What do you think are the rights of parents, One of them answered well, I believe, when she said — well — Shouldn't parente have the same rights as anyone else? I thought to my self how true but do they?

When our democratic form of government was organized we first wrote a Constitution in order that the rights and duties of the participants are known.

So I believe in establishing a home we should clarity the rights of the participants — today specifically the parents. The rights of children have been announced to the tree tops. They have been publicized so well that in some homes no one has any rights left.

So let us turn our attention to a Bill of Rights for Parents.

Article 1. The right to enjoy life. You might cry Utopia. I would ask is there any point to a life we don't enjoy. Sure people have troubles — lots of them. I know the woes of the world seem too bad to be true, but I think life can be enjoyable, and I think an inalienable right of a parent should be to enjoy life — not every minute but generally speaking we should feel that life is good.

Nov if we ware to become philosophical, and I think we should if we are to seek answers we would of course ask — what is good? what is enjoyable — what do we mean when we say — Enjoy 1ife.

It we are to interpret enjoying life, to mean an increase of recreation such as more time for bridge, television and movIes we would all agree that neither we nor society should have much to gain.

Through a process of education and self improvement however we would find ourselves enjoying 1ife a in more constructive ways. We would find our satisfaction in giving. I don't believe just giving does either the giver or the receiver much good. But a giving because we want to give is good for both the receiver and the giver. Our next question to logically follow then is what do we give if we are to enjoy life — and I would answer every parent should have the right to enjoy life by giving of himself.

But you might say how silly that's the trouble with parenthood. That's all we do is give and give and give — so much so we have no time for ourselves — and here is my point. I don't think that we can enjoy life by that kind of giving to our children all the time. A tired parent cannot give. They're maybe around — but they are not giving. A bored parent cannot give. They're maybe going thru the motions but they cannot give. An over anxious over-protective parent cannot give. They too are always around but they cannot give.

Each of us thru contemplation and self examination must find how to best exercise this right.

Article II. The rights of parents to have feeling of accomplishment about rearing their children. Sometimes it seems as though parents get all the blame and none of the credit in this business of parenthood. So many people are eager and ready to give parents advise — many parents seem to have forgotten how to make a decision about the simplest problems of morality. The endless flow of foolish questions which infer such a lack of self-confidence — What should I do if my child k1cks me in the shin? What should I do if my child wants to hit his sister over the head with a hammer?

I think parents have the right to feel a sense of accomplishment which comes from having enough self-confidence to be able to answer for ourselves the ethical and moral questions necessary to keep a family from taIling apart.

I do not mean by this imposing upon ourselves and our children long lists of rights and wrongs. Restrictions which prevent us from thinking and acting freely. I mean the basic ethical and moral standards which every individual home or society must have if it is to survive.

Article III. The rights of parents to have a feeling of accomplishment besldes their children.

I believe a parent makes a serious mistake when being a parent becomes a full time job. The dangers nare are great. The satisfaction precarious. The results poor.

Until our children reach school age we can save ourselves a lot of frustration if we accept parenthood as just about a full time job-leaving our spare time if any for our husband or wife.

However when the school lends its helping hand and we continue to devote ourselves completely to our home and children, I believe we should examine carefully the present and the future and ask ourselves is this enough?

I believe a mature individual would feel a need for more giving. He will turn his heart and his head to people outside his home — to children outside his own. Each of us must again find our own interests, our own ways. The opportunities are unlimited for he who wishes to give — the world is badly in need of all the help we can give it.

Article IV. Another very important right of a parent is the right to be a husband or wife as well as a mother or father.

So much of the literature for parents tells us what to do and how to teel about our children and here and there advises that you should spare some time for your spouse if you are to succeed as a parent.

If I were giving advise, which I never do, I believe I would rather the cart were turned. I think children would be safer — with parents who devote more love and time to each other — thereby permitting their children to breathe a child's life — less disturbed by parents and adult standards.

And then after giving to parents the right to be a husband and wife I would give to them one more final and important right.

Article V. The right to be an adult and to live an adult life. With this article I would give many things to parents which I have heard many so-called experts take away.

Have your read those popular articles which say "I turn over my home completely to my children. I don't worry about noise, messiness, confusion. My children can do what they want in their own home. Inferring I suppose that parents retire to a small closet — basement or maybe the public library — for peace and quiet. What is accomplished by such tyranny I wonder.

I believe being an adult implies a need for study, thoughtfulness, quiet and order. I think parents should look to their own home for the meeting of these needs.

I believe children acquire their adult standards by observing how their parents live — and if they are to become parents they must witness parents who live like an adult.

But you will say — Children must be noisy-active-and messy- and this I know and agree with heartily — but let us organize our homes and our lives so that the rights of each are respected — self respect and mutual respect would result, I believe, in the happiness and success of both parent and child.

Joshua, 1980