Posts in the “personal” category

What are bed bugs?

In a 2023 trip to New Mexico, I found out that The Sage Hotel in Santa Fe has bed bugs, and since then I’ve been trying to learn more about them. I asked ChatGPT, “What are bed bugs,” and got this answer (which I edited slightly for brevity and clarity):

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, and the tropical bed bug, Cimex hemipterus, are the two main species that feed on humans. Bed bugs belong to the family Cimicidae and the order Hemiptera.

Key characteristics of bed bugs include:

  • Size and appearance
  • Feeding behavior
  • Habitat
  • Reproduction
  • Resilience

Signs of a bed bug infestation include itchy welts or bites on the skin, small reddish-brown bugs on bedding or furniture, and dark spots (fecal matter) on surfaces.

See my Santa Fe bed bug report for images of actual bed bugs, courtesy of the Sage Inn in 2024.

Sage Hotel, Santa Fe: Bed bug report

In a personal note, I found out the hard way that the Sage Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico had bed bugs when I stayed there in late 2023. The photos below show the bed bugs that I discovered on the bed at 1:15 a.m. one morning, along with the resulting invoice/receipt from the Sage Hotel (formerly named Sage Inn Hotel).

2024 Update #1: I wrote the Sage Hotel in 2024 about my experience, and how disappointed I was — both with the hotel having bed bugs and with their service — and never received any sort of reply.

2024 Update #2: I talked to a person when I later stayed at another hotel, and they said (a) their hotel never had bed bugs, and (b) if they ever did, they would give customers a full refund. (The Sage Hotel would not give me a full refund.)

Sage Hotel bed bug images

This first photo is from the bed bug I killed. I woke up, saw something moving in the bed, pressed it with my finger, it popped, and left this blood stain:

Ram Dass book on Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba)

Ram Dass FAQ: What is the best Ram Dass book about the Maharaji, aka, Neem Karoli Baba?

The best Ram Dass book about Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba)

I believe the best Ram Dass book about Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba) is the 1979 Ram Dass book Miracle of Love. It’s over 400 pages in length, with story after story about the “miracles” Maharaj-ji performed. Some of the stories are told by Ram Dass, but most of them are told by other people. Almost all of the stories are less than one page in length, so it’s easy to read a few stories every night, if you like.

If you’re interested in what the Maharaji was described as being able to do, along with his quotes about Maya/illusion/delusion, service, loving everyone, etc., this is a great book.

A second great book ...

Another great Ram Dass book about Neem Karoli Baba is Polishing The Mirror.

A great thing about this book is that I think it’s the best summary of all his work. It’s a relatively short book, and summarizes much of what you’ll read in his other books. I really like to underline and highlight words, and I found that I could highlight most of this book. :)

As you can see from the tabs I attached my book, the book covers love, karma, the ego, Bhakti yoga, service, Maya/illusion, The Witness, Hanuman, and much more:

Ram Dass quotes about The Witness and witnessing (and awareness)

Mostly because of Ram Dass books, and also more recently because of the book I Am That, I have been digging deeper than ever into the spiritual concept of “The Witness.” By that I mean both in terms of how we use the witness as a meditation technique, and also what that really means.

To that end I have started collecting Ram Dass quotes about the witness and the process of witnessing as a form of meditation. Here then are the Ram Dass quotes about the witness that I’ve found so far.

Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story

Ram Dass, Maharaj-ji, and Maya (illusion)

As I continue my quest to learn about Ram Dass and Maya (illusion), I also had a very hard time finding any quotes about Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba) and Maya, and after sifting through about 1,000 pages of books I finally found this Maharaj-ji quote:

  • “All is God’s will, but Maya prevents you from knowing it’s all God’s will.”

If you’re interested in this, you can find this quote and a little bit more on page 326 of the book, Miracle of Love.

October, 2023 Update: I also just found the following quotes in an out-of-print book about Maharaj-ji:

  • “You see others trapped by maya (illusion).”
  • “This temple and whatever is seen by the human eye are illusion.”
  • “Delusion makes everything look real.”

In that first quote the “(illusion)” part was in the book, I didn’t add that.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ram Dass, see my post on The Best Ram Dass Books I Know.

Meditation FAQ: What are the different styles of meditation?

As a brief note today, I have tried quite a few different styles of meditation over the last 10-20 years, and I want to make a note of them here. I’m going to start by listing the meditation teachers I know, write a little bit about each one, and then at the end I’ll try to summarize these teachings.

Ram Dass FAQ: What is the best Ram Dass book to start with?

Ram Dass FAQ: What is the best Ram Dass book to start with?

My answer: The best Ram Dass book to start with is ...

I wrote this in my earlier blog post, What Are The Best Books By Ram Dass, but I believe the best Ram Dass book to start with is Polishing The Mirror.

I think this book is the best summary of all his work. It’s a relatively short book, it’s clearly written, and summarizes much of what you’ll read in his other books. I started reading this when I was in the hospital, and as bad as I was feeling at the time, it just blew me away. I like to underline and highlight text, and I felt like I could highlight most of the book.

Two quotes from Anandamayi Ma (via Ram Dass)

Here are two favorite quotes from Anandamayi Ma. I think almost all of these quotes come via Ram Dass, but at the moment I can’t remember what book I saw this in. So at the moment, I assume that Ram Dass or one of his assistants spoke, wrote, or compiled almost all of the following, and I’ll link to one of his books once I can confirm this.

What are Ram Dass’s best books, or book recommendations?

While many people know the famous Ram Dass book, Be Here Now — which is currently the #1 All-Time Best-Selling book in Spiritualism on Amazon — I’d argue that it’s not necessarily his best book.

For example, I have met a few people in my travels who were struggling to read and understand it it because of all the art and 1960s “hippie style” stuff — which I personally like — and it was at that time I realized that while Be Here Now is his most famous book, it may not be his best book. (The problem with the hippie stuff is that it’s also distracting.)

Ram Dass’s best books

IMHO, I think the following books are his best, where I believe best will also depend on (a) a person’s experience with his writings and teachings, and also (b) their own progress on the spiritual path.

Ram Dass on Maya, illusion, stream entry, and karma

I was just looking around for a Ram Dass quote about Maya and couldn’t find anything great, but then I found this YouTube video where he talks about Maya and illusion:

“There’s a philosophy in India where the outside world — the world of things — all is illusion. And that’s a way to deal with the sense world ... to get free of it, and go inward, and go into the Atman, the God within.”

In this Entering the Stream article, he also states the following:

“Beings who have understood how it all is, who have realized their identity with the ātman, are stream enterers; they have tasted the flow of the nectar of liberation. They are a breed apart from other people in the world. They know something others do not know. Every part of their life is colored by that merging.

A free being no longer identifies with the body or personality, with a personal past or future. The body, the packaging, still has its karma running off and the skandhas, the mental aggregates, continue, but with nobody in them.”

(For more on Ram Dass, see my article on The Best Books of Ram Dass (My Recommendations).)

He who lives to see two or three generations ...

“He who lives to see two or three generations is like a man who sits some time in the conjurer’s booth at a fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only once, and when they are no longer a novelty and cease to deceive, their effect is gone.”

~ A quote from Arthur Schopenhauer,
read by Steve Jobs,
as found in the book, How Google Works

My colectomy (colon resection) experience (diverticula, surgery, recovery, diet)

“I’m going to have to resect the colon.”

~ pretty much every surgeon on M*A*S*H at some point

Thanks to diverticula, diverticulosis, and diverticulitis, in 2018 I had to have a colectomy surgery, which is also known as a colon resection. This page is a diary of my colectomy experience.

Background: Diverticulitis

I had two bouts of diverticulitis in the lower-left portion of my abdomen, once in 2015 and again late in 2017. After the second bout in 2017 the pain never went away completely, and would get significantly worse if I tried to eat normal, high-fiber foods like cereal, wheat bread, broccoli, etc.

Mindfulness/Meditation: How to give up attachment and addiction (from the Bhagavad Gita)

As a brief note today, I’ve been reading the Bhagavad Gita (translated by Jack Hawley) lately, and he shares this good line that relates to desire, attachment, and even addiction:

“Realizing the truth of your True Self
is your principal weapon for eradicating desire.”

My short interpretation of that is that our True Self is not our physical body, but something else that you might call awareness, consciousness, the subtle body, the soul, or the Atma (depending on your background), AND, it is possible through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation practice to get in touch with (feel/experience) your True Self. And then, once you realize who “you” really are, your attachments to the physical world will go away.

I used to have a friend who was an addict, and I know she was always looking for anything that would help, so I hope this quote can be helpful for others.

Update: As a followup to my original post, in the book, I Am That, Nisargadatta Maharaj basically says the same thing (many times) as the quote I shared above.