The Infinite Coming Alive

There’s a solace to solitude, but an absence when the soul yearns for intimate connection

It’s a testament to the mind’s fortitude, to smoulder the passions that fuel Love’s ressurection

Finding your reflection in another’s attitude provides so many answers that it obscures the question

And I’ve got more of them than I dare to mention

There’s tension…

There’s an allure to the broken and beat, the calloused hearts bleeding softly in apprehension of the future

It’s such a myth that the fragile are weak, when they so often seek out others for a different wound to suture

So many lessons learned in the streets, but survivalism hardens the ability to trust

And in order to co-exist with the world and the ones we really need,

We must…

Theres an instinct of self-preservation that arises whenever the psyche experiences pain

A compulsion towards all methods of creation to scratch the nagging itch tingling deep within the brain

Maybe it’s because of evolution, this drive to optimize and make the world a better place for all of life, but it requires a level of indifference that I can’t achieve,

Maybe I’m just insane,

I feel too fucking deep…

So I keep seeking solace in expression, hoping others might be cursed enough to share my sympathies

Transform the pain into vibration that resonates the strings of a free-form intertwining symphony

Embrace the nascent chemical connections, propagate relations that help reveal more of the mysteries

The Infinite coming alive inside of me…

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Cycles of Desperation

There’s a camraderie in suffering. Be it grinding through a shitty job with a crew of other workers or commiserating with another victim of abuse, the ability to share pain and frustration with someone else who understands makes it that much easier to process, dulls that sharp edge that cuts down to the heart, even the soul.

But within that camraderie with fellow sufferers is a dangerous undercurrent of desperation that’s perpetuated by inundating yourself with nothing but others tales of woe. While surrounding yourself with others in the same predicament can be immediately empowering, and even at times can help to overcome a difficult situation, in the long term it can lead to a pattern of desperate situations and social interactions.

It’s a diet thing, and I’m not talking about going gluten-free or keto, but a mental and social diet that nourishes your mindset and overall worldview. Surrounding yourself with positive, healthy people cultivates a healthy, positive mindset, and vice versa.

Of course we can’t pick and choose every social interaction we’re involved in, and oftentimes because of responsibilities or obligations we’re forced to associate with others that we otherwise might not want to. But what we can do is try to is make a concerted effort to recognize these patterns and do our best to shake things up and get out of those cycles every once in a while, as uncomfortable as that may be to do.

Even the most toxic, problematic situations can become comfortable and familiar if we become habituated to them. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how destructive they are until someone outside of the situation points it out, which can be excruciating and frustrating as we think everything is under control and hunky dory.

Misery loves company, the old saying goes, and desperation begets desperation. The people you surround yourself with, the situations you willingly involve yourself in can have an impact on even the strongest individual. Choice is all we really have to break this cycle. Use it wisely.

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A message to the former Self

It’s never gonna be quite as you dreamed young man,
The chaos is ever changing
The patterns shift endlessly

It’s not as simple as it seems young man,
Reality is heavy-handed
And shouldn’t always be approached gently

Sometimes you can’t say what you mean young man,
The context isn’t clear
The idea not yet solidified

Others can be a daunting mirror young man,
Reflecting imperfections
The insecurities you thought were hidden deep inside

So sit by the sea and take some time young man,
Healing can be destructive
To let go and play takes more work than it seems

All will end up being as it should young man,
The flood of thoughts can overwhelm
Sometimes it’s difficult to dream…


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Infotainment

This is so interesting, this will blow your mind, watch this till the end and you won’t believe what you see.

This will make you cry, this will make you outraged, the results will shock you, blah blah blah.

This culture of infotainment is ridiculous, a testament to the twisted evolution of showbiz. I always thought laugh tracks in sitcoms were off-putting and a bizarre form of thought control. This is what you should think is funny, this is what you should think is cute, is sad, is inspiring.

That’s the problem with culture, with mass media and social media alike, it’s literally training us how to feel, how to think, how to react. The same way advertising manipulates emotions in order to sell you a product, culture trains the emotional response itself. It’s an ugly thing, and unfortunately if you don’t want to become a total isolationist, you’re going to have to deal with it in some form.

I think that’s why it’s so important to spend time away from screens, from media, from civilization and society in general. Or if you can, travel to other cultures who’s values and norms are vastly different from the one you participate in. Those quirks and things you might find odd and quaint, or frustrating and annoying about other cultures, you probably do the same thing to them.

That’s why it’s so hard but so important to suspend judgement of others and not claim moral or cultural superiority over others, because they’re probably just as indoctrinated by their culture as you are.

Just a random thought, have a nice day.

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No Way but Your Way, which is No Way

Just because you’ve found a spiritual path doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone else. Clarity is subjective, and what may work for you may be toxic to another. Respecting the individual and their unique path is paramount.

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Resolution 2018

New year’s resolution: stop worrying so much about geopolitical bullshit and focus on what we can change, what we can positively influence directly in our day to day.

We each have our own circle of influence, and recognizing the limitations of that circle can be challenging, especially for those of us who very sincerely want to make this world a better place for all beings. As activists, especially in anarchist/radical circles, we tend to focus a lot on the What and the Why, but the How seems to be where things go downhill. How many completely pointless, heated arguments do you see online between people who, based on ideology, should be natural allies?

I’m probably more guilty of being an opinionated jackass than most, but I’ve learned a bit more restraint over the years. It’s great to be informed, great to understand the systems of control and dominant capitalist paradigm we’re trying to subvert, but shoving that knowledge down people’s throats at every opportunity isn’t just arrogant, it can be detrimental to the ultimate goal of personal and collective liberation.

I applaud the journalists and thinkers, comedians, truth-sayers who take it upon themselves to inform the masses, it’s very noble work. I just have been having a hard time staying in that headspace for too long, and living in an island out in the middle of the ocean, it doesn’t really serve me or others to get embroiled in struggles that I can’t directly influence.

I think it’s a natural progression for many of us aging anarchists who came up during the anti-globalization movement era. We sat in circles decades ago and talked about how the actions we were planning and doing might not have any discernable effect on society and culture for years, decades, even lifetimes.

As honorable as that may have been, I’ve come to the understanding that this life, right here, right now is a precious gift, and as the Dalai Lama said, “…I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand myself out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings…”

Happy New Year everyone, from my little cabin on the side of Haleakala to wherever you may be. Much love and aloha.

Eat the rich.

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Triskelion Dreaming

Year of The Ox’s YOX EP on repeat oozing like chilled honey through the carved wooden Bluetooth headphones hanging around my neck, I alternate between fitful catnnaps and vacantly staring down the clouds casting shadows across the Pacific Ocean 36,000 feet below.I’ve been away from the islands for exactly 120 nights, had to calculate it for the agricultural declaration form I just filled out. Traveling East to West from San Francisco to Kahului we’ve caught the jetstream, as often happens, and a normally almost 5 hour flight is now condensed to a projected 3 hours and 21 minutes.The reoccurrence of the number 3 in my precieved reality has become so ingrained that I don’t even question it anymore, simply relax into the triskelion lucid dream state that dictates my path, surrendering to the Flow completely and utterly with a knowing smile, open heart and open mind, detached yet aware of this moment, then the next and the next, grasping the Wu Wei without reaching or holding on, knowing it simply is what it is, and isn’t, as it never was and always has been.The Past, Present and Future meld into One, like the Mind, Body and Spirit, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and the intricate holographic nature of the origami universe unfolds before me, behind me, inside me, the neverending blooming Lotus of existence gently unfurling to reveal the deeper fractal mysteries of the all-that-is.It’s time to accomplish all the things we’ve always dreamed about, trusting the Way of No Way to guide us into the new paradigm we’ve felt shifting for so, so long. Great things are on the horizon, the Veil disintegrates and we gaze with a blind eye into Abyss knowing all will be exactly as it should be.We do not remember
We do not forgetWe are voice of the voiceless
The face of the facelessThe echo of silence
The peace within the violenceExpect us

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Making Space on The Train

There’s so many layers, so many complex, nuanced angles to the Thai culture that will take years, even decades to fully comprehend. It truly is an ever-blooming, ever opening lotus flower, each set of delicate petals revealing an even more breathtaking beauty underneath.

One of these cultural subtleties that I think most Westerners don’t even pick up on is the respect and honoring of each individual’s private space, regardless of the situation. I spent my last couple of days in Bangkok exploring the sky train/subway system as a way to get around, riding rails through the city wherever intuition guided, another extension of the Wu Wei wandering practice I’ve come to know and love.

Riding the MRT/BTS train system early in the morning shows you another side to the culture: the working class getting ready to start the day, University kids headed to classes, wives with their children headed to market to avoid the sweltering midday heat. The trains are often packed so full in certain areas that you can’t even get on, have to wait on the platform for the next car to come rumbling up the tracks.

But once you do get on, there’s a very different vibe than you find on most European trains, let alone the subways of New York City or Washington DC. Even though everyone is packed shoulder to shoulder, unless absolutely necessary, no one jostles or reaches over another. When the train stops, the people by the door will step outside the car momentarily onto the platform to let other passengers get off.

And not with attitude or annoyance, just a simple, mindful recognition that we’re all on the train together, and if we all can simply give and respect each other’s space within the chaotic mass of humanity, it will help make the experience a bit more comfortable for everyone involved. It’s another subtlety that opens my heart up to the Thai people and the culture a little more; a skillful example of how we can all get along together as a society while still respecting each individual’s unique space to live as they like.

I love mass transit, I have since I was a teenager. To me it’s always represented a level of freedom and integration with the urban/suburban culture and, as a writer, provides a fantastic opportunity to people watch.

From the older gentleman in a suit standing with his eyes closed, meditating on the way to work, to the sharply dressed University student who stood up to offer her seat to an old woman who just got on, the Buddhist values are deeply ingrained and create an environment where respect, honor and kindness become second nature. It’s a way of being that the rest of the world would be wise to start emulating, instead of these polarized, judgemental attitudes we carry in the West.

We’re all on the same train, and if we start to just start to do those little things like stepping aside when you see someone’s in a hurry and needs to get by, or waiting patiently for your turn instead of elbowing your way to the front of the line (like the norm seems to be in China, but that’s another story), it creates an atmosphere where others can do the same.

Karma is very, very real, and so many of the cultural subtleties in Thailand are tied to that instrinsic ebb and flow of energy in which we all swim. The more I learn, the more complex it all becomes, and the more I realize I don’t know.

I wish I didn’t have to leave this place, but there’s work to be done, an empire to be built. Like the Dali Lama says, like the words I wrote on a brick along with an offering at an under-construction temple in Chiang Mai, we practice to better ourselves, and we better ourselves so we can help better the world around us.

As conscious individuals in the West, we can have so much impact, help so many people with this massive privilege at our disposal, that if we just set aside the Ego and the Self and figure out how to ride this crazy train of humanity, we can all help change the world.

Simple acts of loving kindness sounds cliche, and is definitely preached more than practiced, but by acting in this way, respecting and giving space to the people around us just a little bit more, we can change the world. I’ve seen it, a whole culture that embodies these values, and I’m sure there are more out there. It’s time to get out in the world and start practicing. Lots to write, lots to see, lots to do…

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Thailand and all the Thai people for showing this ignorant farang how much he still has left to learn and do.

Kap kun kap 🙏❤️🙏
A Hui Ho 🤙❤️🤙
Aho Mitake Oyasin ✌️🤟✊

#theadventuresofoatman

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Blades and The Buddha

I’ve always carried a blade on me while traveling. Always have carried a pocketknife on me in general, not so much as a weapon, but as a tool. My dad gave me my first one when I was 8-9 years old with the explanation that this was not something to play with as a toy, but use carefully and when necessary.

Later in life, backpacking and hitchhiking around the US, I recognized it’s value as a survival tool, especially when I got a sketchy ride with this guy somewhere along the Oregon/California border who abruptly turned down a dirt road so we could go “meet his friends” as he cryptically put it.

If I hadn’t snapped out my blade, held it to his side and demanded that he stop and let me out, I’m not sure where that interaction would have led me. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s always good to be prepared for the worst case scenario, and knives are a valuable tool in that regard..

So when I got to Thailand, traveling light with only a single carry-on bag, one of the first purchases I made was a solid little spring-assisted folder that I carried clipped in my front pocket.The whole trip I used it maybe a handful of times, and never for intimidation purposes.

I completely forgot about it when I packed up my backpack and the new carry-on suitcase I’d picked up to hold all the cheap clothes, spices and jewelry I’d bought along the way. I didn’t remember until I had already cleared Thailand customs and immigration and was on the plane to Kunming, China.

China is night and day from Thailand, the yang to Thailand’s yin. Where the Thai culture and people are open, soft, loving and colorful, the China I experienced is hard, cold and grey. We were rushed off the plane into a bus, rushed off the bus and into customs and immigration, rushed through the process of applying for a the 24 hour visa that’s necessary for any kind of layover, and rushed into the airport where we were left to fend for ourselves. At 12:00 a.m.

Rush, rush, rush. This kind of cold, inhospitable masquerade of efficiency became the theme for the next 24 or so hours. Upon walking into the airport, I was immediately accosted by an older, well-dressed Chinese gentleman with sharp eyes who in broken English offered to put me up in a room for a few hours until my flight.

After a couple weeks exploring Bangkok’s streets, I’ve gotten better at recognizing a hustle and with a knowing smile and slight bow, politely declined the man’s offer, to which he nodded and shuffled off, looking for an easier mark.

I spent the next 6 hours in the cold, brightly-lit Kunming terminal, trying here and there to nap, meditating off and on, listening to a Year of The Ox album on repeat while wandering around and around the terminal looking up at the beautiful yet heartless architecture.

Beautiful isn’t quite the way to describe it. It was beautiful in the way a massive steel skyscraper is beautiful, or one of those massive exposed V8 engines powering a Thai longboat is beautiful. Beautiful in its power and design, but lacking a certain soulful quality that I think is necessary for real beauty. But I digress, and I’m sure some gearheads might take offense to that last one.

When the check-in counter finally opened, I stood in line for a good 30 minutes until I finally was able to check in, got my boarding pass and headed into security, weary and ready to catch a nap or two before my flight.

In my sleep deprived state I totally forgot about the knife I had stashed in my bag, literally until I walked through the metal detector and stood at the other side of the x-ray machine waiting for my two packed carry-ons. When they pulled my bags aside I froze, instantly remembering the blade and trying to maintain my serenity and calm expression as panic crept up my spine.

They immediately opened the suitcase containing the knife, unzipped the pocket it was in and pulled it out. The security guards eyes went wide and he got on his walkie talkie, talking excitedly and within a minute, 2 more security officers and a very spooky looking guy in civilian clothes surrounded me and pulled me off to one side so they could continue rushing people through the security checkpoint in their cold, efficient manner.

Adrenaline was coursing through my veins at this point, and I breathed deep, offering up a silent prayer to the gods to get me through this situation without ending up arrested and sent to a Chinese prison. I tried to explain using broken English and hand guestures that I had forgotten about the knife in my bag and would be more than happy to surrender it if they would just let me go and continue on my journey.

They took a cursory look at the rest of the stuff in the suitcase, which was full of spices and jewelry, and then examined me up and down. Here’s where the gods, the Buddha and the land of smiles gave me one final gift.

I was dressed very cleanly, in a new pair of light colored, long, comfortable cargo shorts and a pure white asian-style collared shirt which completely covered my tattoos. I’d also just gotten my hair cut the day before, and most importantly, was wearing a bracelet of wooden prayer beads on my right wrist.

I’d dressed this way very intentionally, as white in Buddhism is often associated with purity and knowledge, and is worn by many novice practitioners, including myself, to signify a pilgrimage and quest for knowledge and enlightenment.

The prayer beads I had picked up at a street stall outside a temple in Chiang Mai after a particularly inspiring walking meditation practice around an ancient pagoda, and I’d been using them for the past few days for chanting practice.

Maybe the repeated mantras of ‘Auṃ maṇi padme hūṃ’, ‘Om namah Shivaya’ and ‘aho mitakuye oyasin’ had infused into the beads, maybe karma was in my favor, maybe the gods were watching out for me, but after an animated discussion between the security and intelligence officer which included them pointing repeatedly at my right hand where the prayer beads were around my wrist, the intelligence officer (pretty sure it was anyway, he had all the markings of a spook) disappeared and came back with a piece of paper.

He came and asked me a few questions in flawless English: where I was traveling to, what the purpose of my stay in Thailand was, and how long I had been there. I answered honestly, looking him in the eyes with a slight, respectful smile, that I had travelled to Thailand to get dental work done, train Muay Thai and receive a Sak Yant tattoo as part of my religious practice. He nodded, gave me one more long look up and down, and had me sign the piece of paper which acknowledged that I was unintentionally concealing an illegal weapon (spring assisted blades are a no-no in China in checked bags, let alone carry-ons).

He then returned my passport and boarding pass, motioned to my bags and told me I was free to continue. I picked up my stuff calmly, hands still shaking slightly from the adrenaline, and walked out of the security checkpoint towards gate 33, (no shit) and the next step of my journey, offering a silent prayer of gratitude to the Buddha and the gods, the prayer beads on my wrist rattling as I wandered on…

#theadventuresofoatman

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The Love in Violence

I’ve done a bit of training in both violent and non-violent conflict resolution. Balancing both is a skillful dance that’s easier said than done. To incorporate both push and pull, match and cower and know which to use properly in which situation can take a lifetime of practice. In fact, it can be next to impossible for most western cultures who are so obsessed with specialization that more often than not, they remain unbalanced and unwilling to learn, adapt or change.

I think Eastern, particularly Asian cultures have a much deeper and more nuanced perspective on human relations, recognizing the inherent duality of all things, the yin and yang balance, positive and negative necessary to complete the whole.

Thailand is a beautiful example of this, the compassionate, kind and loving nature, the power of smiles and playfulness juxtaposed with quite possibly the most vicious, hardcore martial art in the world in Muay Thai. The incredible thing is that both are equally accepted and honored in the culture.

At a Muay Thai fight a couple weeks ago, I watched one fighter knock out another one with an absolutely brutal downward chopping elbow. It was nasty, kind of hard to watch but then I saw a little girl, maybe 5-6 years old in the stands.

I watched as the little girl giggled and mimiced the knockout elbow blow on her mother next to her, who in turn started play boxing with the little girl, smiling and laughing. It was an incredible moment that made me rethink everything about my western culture and notions of violence and pacifism. I’ve always seen the use of violence as an absolute last resort when all else fails, but here was an innocent little child being encouraged by her mother to elbow someone in the head in a completely pure, loving fashion.

Quite a culture shock, and just one more reason I have so much love and respect for these people, their culture and this country. I’m already missing this place and I’m not leaving for another 3 days. Now, back to the streets, to soak up as much as possible before I go…

🙏❤️🙏
#theadventuresofoatman

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