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I also didn't want to spend a lot of time, so I thought I'd drive. But when I went out, and found it to be sunny and 73°, I decided to walk.
To get to the grocery, I need to cross one busy street, Lamar. There is a button to press on the light pole. I pressed it a few times, but then didn't pay attention to the light, and it took a couple of rounds before I saw the green walk now signal. The sign just lasts for a nanosecond.
When I arrived at the grocery, I thought I'd go in the door of the food court and get some of my favorite soy-vegan gelato. Outside the door was what appeared to be a homeless man. He said "Hi Randy, haven't seen you for a long time." I smiled at him and walked on, wondering what part of me looked like his friend Randy.
There were two women at the counter when I asked for the gelato. One said to the other, "you get the gelato and I'll ring him up."
I went to an outside table to sit and eat it. The air was breathtaking. Breathtaking, that is, until I realized it was breathtaking. Not soon after the realization, I smelled a whiff of garlic as a couple of men carried their lunches to the empty table next to me. One said to the other, "that looks healthy," as I was thinking to myself "that stinks," I thought the smell would soon go away. "I was in the vast outdoors," I thought.
Next thing I knew I got up from my table and walked to another table, away from the garlic. I enjoyed the rest of my gelato listening to the birds, and reading the weekly [Austin] Chronicle ... and not smelling the garlic salmon.
Then I went to wash the gelato off my fingers, and proceeded to get the soy sauce and chicken. The chicken, however, didn't look too good. Instead I bought a rotisseried turkey breast. Hopefully our guests tonight will like that with vegetable soup and spinach salad.
As I write this, I'm fascinated by the cycle of perception/sensation/judgment. I remembered learning about the Buddhist 5 khandas
found it a difficult road... not to criticize, not to be conscious of being conscious. The judgment realm kept getting in the way. "I like this, I don't like this."
When I get to the judgment realm, I leave the experience realm. That's the problem. I am blind, lost in my recent but past experience.
So when I listen to sound of traffic and start to realize that it is good or bad... at that moment I have stopped listening.
Criticism is often hurtful... not necessarily skillful means. Not only does it deprive me of being in the company of another or even of myself, it also puts me one up on you. Better to just let the other know how I am feeling. That is communication. Or maybe (sometimes) just keeping my mouth shut is the best policy.
In Zen, there are three tests for right speech:
Is it honest?
Is it timely?
Is it helpful?
It is hard, thinking back on my criticisms, to find those that pass all three litmus tests. I think one of the reasons that the Buddha gave 20,000 different dharma talks is that he had something different to say for each unique occasion.
One of our guests tonight had worked in a bar for many years and is extremely skillful at reducing arguments (esp. about politics or religion) to nothing. I admire her ability to do this.
PS. I told her about Romney saying today, "I’m not concerned about the very poor...." (partial sentence). She said, "ah-uh!"