Monday, February 29, 2016

From Suffering to Satori Film 2/20/16

On February 20th I went to see this animal rights movie made by a local filmmaker. The event was hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministries , a passionate group of folks who are very active here in PDX.  What struck me most was the focus on the plight of elephants in the Portland Zoo, a place I have fond memories from growing up here my whole life. However, after going vegan I realized on a much deeper level the true despair present in  animals kept in captivity, especially those like the massive and highly intelligent elephants. Packy has spent over 50 years in this one zoo...while the world has passed him by....such a tragic story.

From FaceBook Event  

The question that drove Courtney Scott to produce, write and direct her first feature film, “From Suffering to Satori,” was how do we justify the pain we inflict on other species? This film tracks one woman’s pursuit for answers to this perplexing question. More than just another film about animal rights, “From Suffering to Satori” challenges our most deeply-held convictions about our relationship with animals and our pervasive dominance over all creatures, great and small.

“From Suffering to Satori” takes us on Scott's journey of discovery, where along the way we learn about how animal industries often rationalize their treatment and confinement of animals. For instance, as one zookeeper justifies it: “In many ways, elephants are not that much different from people. If you didn’t make them walk, they would prefer to be essentially couch potatoes.” An attorney who filed a lawsuit against a zoo counters that: “Elephants in a 100 ft. square area that have nothing to do are no different than elephants in a 1 acre or 2 acre area. They still have nothing to do.”

Scott's gentle approach succeeds where other films of this nature may not—by slowly and carefully peeling back layers of often hidden truths, using a soft narrative voice to describe harsh realities. The brutal, sad and sometimes heart-warming stories Scott portrays will resonate with audiences long after the final credits roll. This film doesn't demand a reaction, but instead invites viewers to draw their own conclusions and make their own choices on animal rights—even if it's a small step, to ease animal suffering.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Quest for Romance

I've been yearning lately for an intimate, romantic connection; especially one that could flourish as a partnership.

Core attributes I desire in a partner:

  • Vegan (or willing to shift to veganism) 
  • Wholesome (8 Fold Path ideals, NVC,substance free) 
  • Conscious/Activist/Radical (Engaged, Informed, Involved) 
  • Simplicity Minded (Frugal/Moneyless, Freegan, Gift culture, HARDY, Cycling, No Kids, Alternative Housing)
My OKCupid Profile

ISFJ(The Defender) personality-relationships-dating

Primer on my Wisdom Practice (in-depth information about my path)


    Sketch from a friend of "Dream Lady": note protest sign, stains on shirt, and freckles. :)

Obviously pretty niche, especially the moneyless/gift culture aspects. What I see a lot are either mainstream vegans, or radical/counter-culture types who aren't very wholesome/vegan-a lot of paleo/back to land/exploit animals permaculture types. Hopefully, I will meet a lovely vegan in the  activist/environmentalist scene! Altogether, people are just products and reflections of their surrounding culture, friends etc....and I have put myself on a bit of an "extreme" island in that regard.

I feel a little odd sometimes because it seems like I'm doing an inverted life path...most folks who embark on this sort of radical journey seem to be skewed younger for obvious reasons; lack of commitments/responsibilities, no kids, searching for truth, full of youthful idealism/naivety etc. So, when I scan just a cursory sampling on the modern day emporium of dating that is OKCupid, I come away fairly disheartened.

The "Goldielocks syndrom" is something that troubles me as well...being too nitpicky and selective, and not being able to tolerate quirks, differences etc. I really hope to learn how to better handle this, not only for romance, but for all levels of connection. Developing true affinity is often you can imagine.

"VeganSexuals"(People only sexually intimate with fellow vegans)

Many nights I lay here in the "command center"(my room)...and I notice the deep ache for having some kind of romantic female cuddling, connecting and sharing a bed together...but actually manifesting it is another thing. Unlike many things in the screenverse, like a movie, videogames etc, you can't just call up love "On-Demand." And the kind of relationship I'm after, is one that takes time and dedication, to reap and sow a deeply fulfilling bond.

The soundtrack to my quest:

London Grammar (perhaps my favorite newish artist)

Keane(big one back in college days too)

Bread (uber sweet 70s tunes)

Peter Gabriel(especially Don't Give Up)

Nobody To Love-Sigma  (more of a fun one really )

Peter Cetera (super clingy overly romanticized grandiose love songs)

Priest-The Game 

TimeCop1983 ( <3 RetroWave)


*honorable mention: Phil Collins, esp Against All Odds (I would listen to this quite a bit during my tumultuous divorce year of 2012)

I've felt more sorrowful pangs lately as well, due to both desiring romance more, and then seeing it in various forms around me, yet unable to call it forth it in my own life. The feeling of lack is pervasive, and is another testament to the Buddhist concept of suffering founded in desire. My root spiritual teacher and friend Satya Vayu, shared some of his wisdom via this 50 page essay, of which he spent time addressing sexual relationships/love, and the issue of celibacy, tenets I adhered to for several months in Fall 2014/Winter 2015:

"There are several other ways of understanding the practice of spiritual celibacy, and its potential benefits, that we might consider.  There is the obvious one that it might help relieve us of what we must admit is one of our strongest desires - the craving for sexual experience, and also the related, but less physical, longing for the emotional support and sense of belonging attributed to having a partner.  We can certainly observe that these longings often keep us from remaining focused on the present - and thus from appreciating the gifts that we already have, and the belonging that already surrounds us.  Such longings, then, are often involved with the formation of feelings of personal inadequacy and unworthiness.  Also we must admit that the pursuit of sexual encounter, as well as the pursuit of a partner, can lead us into many unwholesome entanglements, and eventually to much disillusionment and disappointment.  To be free of all this would certainly be a relief.  But, of course, it is an open question as to how well a practice of celibacy will actually free us of these longings, or whether deprivation will just increase frustration, or the power of fantasy.  There is also the crucial question of whether a sexually active life must  inevitably include these drawbacks, or whether they are just a sign that more learning and growing must be done before we can incorporate sexual expression into our lives in a healthier way - a way that allows us to remain centered in the present, in touch with equanimity, and aware of our inherent belonging to the universe.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for the practice of celibacy is the aspiration to be available to compassionately serve all people, even all beings, without the bias of an exclusive affection for one person, or the hindrance of a special obligation to such a  person.   We all can probably relate to the experience of feeling outside of the full attention and engagement of someone who is instead absorbed in a focus on their romantic partner - and how we might aspire to transcend such exclusive and biased patterns, patterns perhaps fed by a kind of self-centeredness, through our spiritual practice.  But, again, we must ask if this spiritual maturation is best cultivated through sexual abstinence, or through other forms of understanding and working with sexuality."

Another recent revelation is the romantic soap opera that I have witnessed living in community, with all the synergistic vegans seemingly vying for the same people. I never had this experience in high school or this is a new one on me. There are challenging feelings of being intimidated/overwhelmed to pursue potential partners, or acquiescing to other more dynamic, rival suitors...I was never one to shine to competition in general, whether it be in the job-seeking realm, or in the interest of love. I often feel drowned out by the "song and dance" of more extroverted folks, a lament my fellow introverts know well.

Even approaching women in public is something I am hesitant towards...finding the time and place where it is appropriate and respectful. I was distracted mightily at the New Years Eve celebration at Heart of Wisdom by several lovelies, and I've been thinking about some sincere dialogue to engage with. One might go something like this: "Hi, my name is Tyler, I feel attracted/drawn to you and was wondering if you wanted to connect more, either now or later?" I've yet to engage in this method in person, but I have used similar language online, using basic NVC (Non-Violent Communication) principles for calling forth what is alive in me.

(sans the exploitative Zoo aspect, I like the gusto of courage sentiment here)

I have been getting a lot of positive, sensual/platonic touch/cuddles from various females over the last several months...without being classified in a relationship. This is something both good and bad. Great in the sense that I can get some of that baseline human need for physical contact met, and also growing closer with another person. However, what I have noticed is since the underlying need of a deeper, true-romantic partnership is not reciprocated fully, it causes me some frustrating hardship, and is a bit of a tease. What also occurs is some strain in honoring the true nature of the "cuddle buddy" boundaries of said relationships...while a big part of me wants to just let the passion flow freely, uninhibited...I have to guard against that. I keep that love energy in reserve for someone whom I really resonate with. It seems like some women don't have such specific criteria such as I, so they tolerate more things, and are more care-free about relationships. I have to remind myself to remain vigilant in this quest, and not get pulled astray by all the awesome folks out there. It feels nice to be seen and appreciated...but to be deeply understood, loved and chosen, is something worth the diligence. 

Another interesting wrinkle is the fact I am handsome. and apparently have a "GODBOD"... as one my good friends put it. This is a new situation for me...I didn't have this experience in school...and then I was married...not to mention the fact I was pretty chunky and geeky for many years. I don't want women to be overly enticed by my physical appearance, as I am not into that sort of casual attention or desire; but it is also a reflection of the care I take of myself, so it's nice to reap some benefit from it. I prefer to find someone who is in shape and thriving health wise, so we can better collaborate with vitality in the "shifting of the paradigm."  

The issue of polyamory also comes is rather en vogue these days, especially in alternative PDX circles. Generally, I always thought it was a can of worms and logistically challenging. How does one balance life/work/whatever with one partner, let alone a few? What is the great benefit over monogamy...? Are platonic friends not enough? Better access to being intimate with more lovers? Is there some kind of open relationship commitment phobia going on? Are a lot of poly people sensual thrill seekers, being invigorated by the never ending supply of human connection? I can see some merit to this path, but I only think I would consider polyamory if the prospective partner had exceptional resonance with my core values. I'm pretty sure I'm just not not built for this ...especially with all my monogamous conditioning from my long term relationship to the 'ol ex-wife. (I will expand upon these thoughts in a follow-up companion piece to this post.)

I've asked my community/friends for increased support in this endeavor. I suppose even if I just put this intention out there, people will be more apt to respond. I also tend to forget the magic of just asking for what I want...usually it works out in amazing ways. 

Thank you for witnessing my testimony. <3

Thursday, February 4, 2016

When we Fight, We Win! 1/27/16

I went to Reading Frenzy bookstore on 1/27/16 to view a presentation of the following work by inspiring activists and artists:

(Facebook Description)

"Join us in welcoming co-authors Greg Jobin-Leeds, Jorge Díaz and Deymirie Hernández of AgitArte to celebrate the release of WHEN WE FIGHT WE WIN: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World (The New Press, January 2016)!

Also joining us tonight:

Sharon Gary Smith!

Scot Nakagawa!

Walidah Imarisha!

In WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN! longtime social activist Greg Jobin-Leeds joins forces with AgitArte—a collective of innovative artists and organizers—to capture the stories, philosophies, tactics, and art of six of today’s most pressing movements: immigrant rights, the LGBTQ movement, the fight for quality public education, the prison justice movement, the struggle for economic power, and the environmental movement.

“Wonderful…inspiring…WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN! portrays vividly, and creatively, how alone we may seem small, but together we can become a powerful force to make a better world. A timely and impressive work.”

—Noam Chomsky, MIT professor of linguistics, emeritus

“As protests and demonstrations sprout across the land, young organizers and activists need to know why and how movements are sustained, and how they grow. That resource has arrived.”

—Mumia Abu Jamal, author and activist"


When We Fight, We Win!

Walidah Imarisha's book also looks amazing!

Ocatavia's Brood

Below is the AMAZING presentation from AGITARTE (Not from the PDX showing, but pretty much the same performance)

Collectively Free thoughts on Intersectionality relating to non-human animals, often left out of the movements such as this.