Posts in the “personal” category

Dropping Keys, by Hafez

the small man
builds cages for everyone
he
knows,
while the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for
the
beautiful
rowdy
prisoners.

~ an old Persian named Hafez

The Guest House, by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought,
the shame,
the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ The Guest House, by Rumi

Rumi: My religion is love

My religion is love.
Love is the bridge between you and everything.
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
Be a witness, not a judge.
I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.
Past and future veil God from our sight; burn up both of them with fire.

~ Rumi

Ezoic ads vs Google AdSense

April 15, 2024: A nice thing about Ezoic is that people from the company keep reaching out to see if I’m happy with Ezoic, and if I want any more information about their tools. I don’t think I ever had an email with anyone from Google AdSense, so this is a nice change.

March 27, 2024: I just received my first payment from Ezoic, so that’s cool.

March 16, 2024: As a brief note today, I recently started using Ezoic for the ads on this website, and so far my revenue is much greater than it was with Google AdSense. My ad revenue has increased at least 50%, and probably more than that.

Switching from AdSense to Ezoic

For a long time I was afraid to switch to another company besides AdSense because I had not heard of Ezoic and others, but after several weeks on their platform, all is well.

I should also say that I was very busy, and I thought that “making the switch” might take a while, but if you have existing AdSense and Analytics accounts, it doesn’t seem to take too long. The actual time I spent on a computer to make the changes was probably about 4-8 hours overall, but in calendar time it took a few days because of the AdSense and Analytics integration (waiting), and a few other configuration things I had to wait for. (So, several days in calendar time, but 4-8 hours in actual time.)

It’s also important to note that Ezoic is an AdSense partner, which I discuss more below.

Letting go of the ego (at least at night)

Dear diary,

Annihilation of the ego continues to make progress, at least during sleeping hours. In recent nights I’ve gained awareness during the dream state to find “myself” as animals, women, and other men.

Last night I gained awareness as an older black man, talking to other black men about some of the discrimination and injustices we’ve gone through in our lives. We can laugh a little amongst ourselves about them now, but I could feel that under the laughter there’s also a deep sadness and pain.

Lately each nightly occurrence ends the same way: Eventually there’s a realization that “I” am supposed to be “Al,” and that realization startles me, pulls me from the scene, and wakes me.

Yours truly,
The Hopefully-Disappearing Self

P.S. — I don’t know if it’s more correct to say “black man,” “African-American,” or something else. To be clear, if it wasn’t important to the story I would not mention it at all.

The Girl Who Loved to Dance

Some day I might write a book called, Random Conversations with Strangers While Aimlessly Wandering Around, and it will include stories like this:

Many years ago I walked into a favorite bakery in Alaska. Nobody was there, no customers or employees, so I took a few minutes to look over the cookies and donuts to decide what I wanted.

Finally a young woman came out of the back room. I knew from previous donut/cookie runs that she was born in Ohio, moved here about five years ago, was nineteen years old, and would be twenty in a few months. As she brought out a tray of something new, she said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”

I replied it was no problem, it gave me a chance to think about what I wanted. We chatted for another minute or two and then she looked around and said, “Can I be honest with you?”

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 book you can 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.

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

As a brief note today, I have 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, 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 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.

Meditation brings up memories, including of abusive parents

I debated about whether or not to share this story publicly, but I think it may potentially be helpful for two groups of people, so I’m sharing it here. First:

  1. For victims of parental abuse, I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that your feelings (anger, disappointment, fear, unworthiness, lack of self-confidence, etc.) are perfectly normal.
  2. Second, for people who meditate, I want to let you know that both good and bad memories can pop into your mind spontaneously as your meditation practice advances.

And now for the brief story:

Allergic angina (Kounis Syndrome) in mast cell disease patients

Everyone tells me that the cardiologist I see is the best heart doctor in Boulder, Colorado, so on Thursday we were talking and I was telling him that it looks like I was born with a rare blood disease named mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and said, “So maybe that fake heart attack I had last May may have been allergic angina, you know, Kounis Syndrome. If we had known about MCAS at that time I might not have needed that angiogram, yada yada yada.” Then he said, “Wait, what was the name of that disease?”

At first I was upset that he didn’t know what this was, but then I realized how rare mast cell disease is. Statistically there are only 26 other people in Colorado with this disease, and if I was still in Alaska there would only be three or four of us. (FWIW, this is the same doctor who knew what a Pheochromocytoma is, and told me to get to the Mayo Clinic asap when my bloodwork made doctors think that I had a Pheo.)

The good news is that I was able to give him all of the information I have on mast cell disease and Kounis Syndrome, so hopefully in the future he can try giving patients who present unusually some Benadryl and see if that helps. (I started to write, “Give them Benadryl instead of an angiogram,” but the stress test showed a possible dead spot in my heart, so I was getting that angiogram one way or another.)

(This image comes from the book, Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease.)

Near-death experiences: No thoughts in my mind, just peace

September, 2018: Before doctors figured out that I have a rare blood disease called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), I went unconscious nine times, typically vomiting while I was unconscious. The first three went like this:

  • During the first event I stumbled around my apartment like I had been poisoned, splashing cold water on my face, and generally just hoping I wasn’t going to die. Despite those efforts, I went unconscious. I only knew that because I threw up on the floor while I was out.
  • At the beginning of the second event where I felt like I had been poisoned I thought, “If I live through this one, I need to update my will.”
  • During the third event I thought, “Apparently I’m going to die soon. I just want other people to be happy, and if I live, I want to help them however I can.”

After that, for events #4 through #9, along with four subsequent cases of allergic angina — what I call “fake heart attacks” — I had no significant thoughts in my mind, just peace.

These days when something bad happens I recall those nine syncope events and four heart/cardiac events, and know that I could have died during any of them. When I think that way, all of today’s little problems seem insignificant.

What are Ram Dass’s best books (recommendations, ranked)

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 knew a few people in Colorado who was struggling with 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.

Ram Dass’s best books

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

Maine Cabin Masters: Ryan’s saying about Sunday and Monday

I was watching a Season 4 episode of Maine Cabin Masters and heard an interesting saying that Ryan has about Sunday and Monday:

“Don’t let your Monday ruin your Sunday.”

Initially Ashley and Jedi were talking about this, and then I think Ryan talked about it as well. They started the conversation when they found a sign in someone’s cabin, and Ashley noted that Ryan says that all the time.

The basic idea is that you know you have to go to work on Monday, but don’t let that ruin your Sunday, meaning that Sunday is still your day off, and you should enjoy it, rather than worrying about Monday all Sunday like many people do.

They also mention this saying in this Facebook post.