Posts in the “personal” category

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

As I continue my quest about Ram Dass and Maya (illusion), I also had a very hard time finding any quotes about Maharaj-ji 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, 2022 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.

Ram Dass on Maya and illusion

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.”

Song of the Day: Minutes to Memories, by John Mellencamp

Last night I had a dream in which a woman picked up a stone, turned it over, and showed it to me. A burning image of Jesus on the cross was on this other side. Skipping over some stuff, it eventually reminded me of this Gospel of Thomas quote: “Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me.’”

This morning this makes me think of the song, Minutes to Memories, by John Mellencamp. (I used to link to the video on YouTube, but it has been removed.)

Zeus, the best dog ever

Once upon a time there was a dog named Zeus. Before we met him, Zeus had a very difficult life, having been abused by two different owners. When my wife saw Zeus on a local tv station, and they said the Animal Care Society was going to be extremely careful about who adopted him next, she seemed to know that she had to take care of him.

As you can see from the following pictures, when we first adopted Zeus, he was very sick, with a horrible case of mange.

Mast cell activation disease vs histamine intolerance (differences)

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October, 2016: I’m pretty new to learning that I probably have Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) — also known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) — and as I’m learning more about it, I’ve been wondering, “What is the difference between MCAS/MCAD and histamine intolerance?” In this article I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

(Note: I take a little time to explain mast cell activation disease in this article. If you just want a quick overview, see the Summary section below.)

The Soul Game

[Note: This is a chapter from a currently-unpublished book I’m (slowly) writing on meditation and mindfulness.]

As a spiritual being, one possible way to think of life here on Earth is as a “game” that serves as a training ground for the soul. It’s a game like other games, so it has many levels, and they get harder and harder as you progress. So in this case, the better you become at the game of spirituality — The Soul Game — the harder the levels become.

TV series “Becker” now on DVD

The tv series Becker was one of my favorites back in the day, and I always wondered why it wasn’t available on DVD. I just looked, and it’s now available at Amazon, just released in 2018.

A favorite episode that helped me snap out of a personal funk was when Becker finally got to be with his long-lost love, a woman he pined for for many years. When he finally had a chance to reunite with her it turned out she was wild, crazy, ran up his credit card bill, then took off. In its own way, that episode helped me get over someone I had felt the same way about. (It was like seeing a comedic version of your own life that turned out to be a great slap in the face moment for me.)

Pink/orange Moon rising over Greater Chicagoland

I drove through Chicago recently and with my crappy old phone’s camera I got this photo of the pink and orange Moon rising over Greater Chicagoland. It was a clear night and the Moon was visible for the entire drive.

The meaning of the song “Levon,” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

I’ve always wondered about the meaning of the song Levon, as performed by Elton John, with lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. After a little research, this is what I’ve been able to find out about the meaning of Levon.

Elton John on Levon’s meaning

The best information I’ve found comes from the songfacts website. There, one contributor states the following:

In Susan Black’s book, Elton John in His Own Words, Elton says of Levon: “It’s about a guy who just gets bored doing the same thing. It’s just somebody who gets bored with blowing up balloons and he just wants to get away from it but he can’t because it’s the family ritual.” (thanks, Alexander - London, England)

Two notes about that quote:

Bernie Taupin on Levon’s meaning

Since Bernie Taupin wrote the song, I thought he would be a better source of information about the meaning of Levon. On that same page someone else added this:

When Rolling Stone asked Taupin about the song in 2013, he insisted that he has no idea what he intended as the meaning. “It was a free-form writing,” he said. “It was just lines that came out that were interesting.”

The names “Levon” and “Alvin Tostig”

The Wikipedia entry for Levon adds:

According to Gus Dudgeon, Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics for Levon, was inspired by The Band’s co-founder, drummer, and singer Levon Helm to name the title character after him. The Band was apparently John’s and Taupin’s favorite group in those days. However, in 2013, Bernie Taupin said that the song is unrelated to Levon Helm.

They also state this:

The “Alvin Tostig” mentioned in the song (Levon’s father) is, according to Taupin, merely fictional.

An Elton John fan website adds some speculation regarding the name “Alvin Tostig”:

Tracing the name “Alvin Tostig” is fairly straightforward, but with a bit of a twist. Taupin has said the name was fictitious. There was a historical “Tostig,” who was the Earl of Wessex back in the 1040s, perhaps Taupin pulled the name out of history without realizing it. Also, some have speculated that Levon contains veiled references to a popular book of the time, “Future Shock,” by Alvin Toffler.

(Note that some of this text may be copied verbatim from straightdope.com, or vice-versa.)

Personally, if you want to speculate on the name “Tostig,” I’d add that it’s close enough to “Taupin” that you might speculate that Taupin was potentially writing about himself.

My gallstones diet advice: how to live with gallstones

Note: I originally wrote this article in the summer of 2010. I survived on this diet for a long time, but eventually gave up my gallbladder to a surgeon.

My gallstones diet advice: Ugh, my health has destroyed my productivity lately. Due to a mysterious stomach ailment, I’ve had a lot of “stomach” pain, visited the ER several times, met a lot of doctors, had many tests, and lost thirty pounds in less than seven weeks.

“The Man in the Arena” speech by Teddy Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

“The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

~ “The Man in the Arena” speech by Teddy Roosevelt, with a few minor changes, which I was reminded of by this article

Why am I always sick? (or, “Why are you always sick?”)

“Why am I always sick?” That’s a question I used to ask myself a lot. Other people asked it as well: “Al, why are you always sick?”

I remember one time I was in the same room as my wife while she was on the phone. She was taking to her sister, who was talking about her husband (my brother-in-law), and their conversation went on for quite some time. Afterwards I said, “Wow, I hope you guys don’t talk about me all the time like that.” My wife said, “No, we just say that you seem to get sick a lot.”

MCAS/MCAD: What an activated mast cell looks like

At some point somebody was like, “Let’s get a mast cell — a type of white blood cell — from a bone marrow biopsy, magnify it 1,000 times, piss it off, and see what happens.”

The result? Ka-boom! It looks like a little firework went off when it released its histamine, tryptase, serotonin, superoxide, heparin, thromboxane, PGD2, PAF, and other granules.

That’s pretty much what it feels like, lol. I used to tell doctors that it felt like I had been drugged, and indeed, I was.

(Image from this nih.org research paper.)

I Still Forgive You

We were playing at our camp when my older brother — who was standing on higher ground than I — saw something in the distance. He stood upright, then perfectly still. After a few moments he turned to me in a look of panic I had never seen before, pointed in a direction opposite from where he was looking, and screamed, “Run! Run!” I was startled at his behavior but I knew that something was very wrong, so I ran. And I ran.

I ran as fast as I could, weaving through the brush and constantly changing my course as I was chased by a white man on a dark horse. I thought I might be close to safety when I darted through some bushes, but I ran right into a creek that was too wide to jump across. As I paused for a moment to decide how to continue, the white man shot me in the back.

In intense pain and sudden shock, I stumbled forward into the creek, bent over with one hand in the creek. As I attempted to stand up and regain my balance, I was shot in the back again. This time my body flew forward towards the opposite side of the creek. I tried to control my fall but could not, and my torso slammed against the land. The right side of my face was pressed against the ground, my eyes still open. My right arm was trapped under my body, my left arm was somewhere down my left side. My legs lay in the creek’s water.

Judgment Day

I don’t watch many movies or tv shows, at least not as many as most people. The reason I don’t is because I experience lucid dreams most night that Hollywood can’t compare to. I don’t know why I have these dreams, but I have had them since I was a young child, and that’s just the way things are. This story from May 2, 2022, is just one example.

~~~

There was a bomb in the building.

Somehow I knew that.

I remember walking into a government-style building that had a parking lot directly in front of it. If you walked into the front doors, went down the hallway to the right, and then took your first left, there was a device on the floor that looked like a boxy, 1970s-style tape recorder, but it was really a bomb.

So I began working with a friend to evacuate the building. He went one way, I went the other.

As I ran around the building, Lori — my friend who died last summer — ran up to me and said in a panic, “He knows everything about you. Everything! You have to run.” I looked at her and tried to make sense of how she was here and what she was saying, but she was terrified and screamed, “RUN!” Then she ran away in the direction I had just come from.

Stories

From time to time, usually in the winter months, but not always, I like to write little stories of fiction. “Flash fiction,” I’m told they are called.

Here’s a short list of stories I’ve posted here recently:

Broncos Nathaniel Hackett on creating a positive work environment

I don’t agree with everything Nathaniel Hackett has done to start his tenure with the Denver Broncos, but I do agree with this quote about trying to create a good and happy work environment:

“You want them to feel an environment that they want to come into, and they’re excited to come into. That’s all you can do, that’s what you’re trying to create.”