Thursday, 31 January 2013

8 Ways to Connect with the Strength of Femininity. ~ Lori Ann Lothian

You know you are out of balance as a woman when you keep encountering control-freakish, verbally abusive, men in power—men who act like doms on steroids.

Because as much as I want to make it about them, I know those power drunks represent aspects of me. It’s Jungian shadow work 101, along with the “life’s a mirror” theory.
Traffic cop Butterchuck pulled me over for a supposed infraction (really it was a trap and I wish I had the instant replay). Once he waved me onto the shoulder, he sauntered over and sneered that I had not stopped for him fast enough and indeed had tried to run him over. He sarcastically mimicked the way I talked to my passenger German Shepard (I was commanding her to stay versus leap through the open window to rip his throat out). As he wrote the ticket, he threatened to charge an extra $200 for my stolen front license plate that I had reported and replaced (but had yet to affix because, as I explained to him, the thief had stolen the screws.)

Basically, he acted like a jerk on a power trip.

Granted he was obese, and okay I’ll say it, with that triple chin, he was facially unattractive.  And yes I so get that his life might simply be miserable. But I also get that of all the cops in the world, I ended up with an outright misogynist.
Then today, crossing to the U.S. from Canada, I get a male customs officer running the same wounded-masculine software.
Ma’am what will you be doing in Maui?
Lying on the beach and reading.
That’s not a direct answer ma’am.
Um. It’s not?
What will you be doing, ma’am.
I didn’t’ know what else to say except the truth, so I repeated more slowly that I would be sunning on the beach and catching up on my recreational reading. Did he want marital sex forecasts too?
posterdomAfter a few grim  head shakes, he let me know the right answer was, I will be taking a vacation. He went as far as to mention the b word next, saying, and I quote, “If it’s not a vacation then you could be lying on the beach reading and making a bomb.” (I swear, this is a true story).
Next, in the same Gestapo tone: Do you have pets? 
When I nod, he accuses my passport of smelling like animal urine (yes, I know, you can’t make this shit up). He says it three times in a loud voice. When he hands it back, I sniff. It smells a little bit like vitamin B’s which are usually spilled in the bottom of my purse. So I tell him it could be a nutritional smell. He almost grabs my passport back because,  I assume, that too was the wrong answer.
Later on the plane, I ask my husband (who had a nice lady customs officer): Do I come across like a controlling asshole on a power trip sometimes?
I can tell he desperately wants to duck this one, but finally relents: “Yes.”
I’m sure that’s not the right answer. But I listen.
He says I can be so focused on what I am doing, usually writing, editing and, lately, launching my own magazine that apparently I can be harsh, dismissive and ridged when interrupted, or say, asked when dinner might be ready.
This is new for me, this driven, goal-oriented person I’ve become in the last year. It feels like play to me, muse-full and fun, but I can see too how it is consuming my feminine in a conflagration of masculine duty to do more, meet deadlines and work harder.
I am both masculine and feminine, as we all are, and lately I’ve noticed my manly side needs some tender loving care. It’s becoming a liability, my own inner Officer Butterchuck rampaging though my domestic and love life with all the grace and poise of a bull. I need to love it up, this manly me, the way a good woman would love up her stressed-out, overworked man.

So for all you hard-working, independent, successful working girls with a brewing Officer Butterchuck complex, take note and try this advice, which I promise I will be trying as well.

1Whisper. When you want to shout at someone, take a deep breath instead and practice the breathless Marilyn Monroe sex-kitten whisper. Or better yet, try the Bette Davis throaty-hoarse voice that brings to mind long-stemmed cigarette holders, bourbon-sipping and nights of catch-your-breath passion under silk sheets with your lover. Bring this old-school gal voice to your life (use sparingly) and those commands to your loved ones and work mates will sound instead like a seductive suggestion. Yes ma’am!
2. Find Pasture Time. You’ve been working for 12 hours straight, slinging cocktails, running a corporation, editing a magazine. Whatever you’re doing, and doing like a winning thoroughbred racehorse, you also need to find time to simply laze and graze. Restorative measures might look like reading a good book, doing yoga, watching a movie, getting a massage, tea with girlfriends or a quiet night cooking at home with your beloved.  The time-outs will fuel the work-time and create a needed balance between doing and being. Sigh of relief, anyone?
Source: Susan via Cindy Hauri via Pinterest
Source: Susan via Cindy Hauri via Pinterest
3.  Shake your booty. Get up off your chair and put on an old-timey disco song (Stayin’ Alive?) or a club-stomping anthem (It’s Gonna Be a Good Night) and move your body. Bottom line, dancing is inherently, intimately feminine. It will take you home to your sensual, rhythmic female-ness faster than even the caresses and kisses of an attentive lover. Belly dance anyone?
4. Fool Around. This is what the quickie was made for. The best break from an intense stretch of work, is to jump your lover’s bones—or to jump your own. Pleasure with self or another, just like dancing, brings the body to the foreground. And again, the body is a key to the feminine just as the mind is a door the masculine. This is true for both sexes.
5. Be a Magnet. The masculine in each of us is a go-getter, the pursuer and taker. The feminine is the part of each of us that is receptive. It attracts what it needs and wants. Think of yourself a huge horseshoe magnet and your goals as the iron-filings lining up in response to your intentions. This might sound new-agey, but it works. Allowing things to happen is a whole lot less stressful than always working to make it happen.
6. Put on the Charm. Bill Clinton was a charismatic president who played the sensual saxophone. He is a powerful man with a strong feminine current that allowed him to broker middle-east compromises that more assertive presidents had failed to do. (And yes, this same charisma got him into trouble with mistresses). As a woman, your natural charismatic ability can be harnessed to enchant and bewitch. This means you can create harmonious deals, soften confrontations and get your goals met with charm instead of brute force.  When your innate charisma is allowed to flow, life just gets easier.
Source: Stephanie Kuhn via Alin Ajel via Pinteret
Source: Stephanie Kuhn via Alin Ajel via Pinteret
7. Get Your Sexy Back. There’s something about feeling sexy that puts me right into my feminine. Sexy can be so many expressions, from how we dress, to how we talk and to how we move. For me, sexy means getting out of my jeans and into a clingy dress, or putting on red lipstick, or letting my hips sway when I walk. There is not one kind of sexy. There is just your own version of it. So find your sexy and put it on.
8. Trust that Something Good is Trying to Happen. This one is a biggie. Trust is a feminine trait, especially when we take it to the level of surrender. Believing that no matter what chaos, disruption and detours are taking place, somehow things are working out for the best. Even my examples, of looking at the controlling men I was encountering as a wake-up call to my own lack of balance, is how as women (and men engaging their feminine) we can learn to soften into reality. This bending instead of breaking is the hallmark of the feminine way.  And those forehead worry wrinkles will soften too, when we learn to let go control and trust the process.
I grew up a tomboy, playing softball with the boy next door, building tree houses and generally acting like a commander-in-chief, rallying the neighborhood kids in games of tag and red rover.
And I founded the Sex Club, a secret group of mostly one eight-year-old-boy and all the little girls like me who wanted to see just what he had in his pants—and share what I had in mine. I still remember the time his part grew longer and bigger, and all us girls stood around with him marveling at this strange expanding “member”—we didn’t even know what to call it yet, though I think he called it his “weenie.”
This dichotomy of tomboy-tree-climber and sex-curious-girl still exists in me. I am equally at home in jeans, boots and a leather jacket as I am in a frilly lace dress and heels. I can be a charming dinner hostess leading the dance party, and I can be a driven workaholic writer and editor with a bossy streak.

I want to learn how to be manly and womanly, to be assertive and soft, to act with power and move with grace, to march when I need to and dance when I can.

I am womanly hear me roar. I am manly, hear me purr. That is real balance. I’ll let you know when I find it.

Understanding How Dogs Communicate With Each Other

These canine gestures are intended to do more than just “calm” others.

by Pat Miller
Katie, our cranky, creaky, geriatric Australian Kelpie, is grumpy with just about every other member of the canine species. I was at least a little concerned when we brought home our most recent family member, Bonnie, a Scottie/Corgi/Whatever-mix.
At age five months, Bonnie came with a personality that was one of the softest and sweetest I’ve seen in ages. In fact, I suspect she was surrendered to the shelter by her owner of just one week in large part due to the fact that she urinated submissively the instant anyone spoke to or touched her. I worried that Katie’s gruff admonitions would be too much for her sensitive nature.
“Nothing to see here, sir ... Please go away so I can breathe again!” Even though the Shepherd-mix looks friendly enough, the black dog is younger, less socially experienced, and lower-ranking. He freezes, keeping his tail low, and keeps his gaze averted in an attempt to disappear from the other dog’s radar.
Quite to the contrary, Bonnie’s willingness to defer to Katie with obviously submissive body language at every turn has averted any potential conflict. In fact, Bonnie gets along with Katie – and the rest of our pack – better than any of our other dogs simply because she’s so appeasing. I was surprised and immensely delighted when I looked out my office window one day last week to see Bonnie and Katie playing, no, romping together in the backyard!
Reading dogs
Paradigm shifts in the dog-training world in the last decade have led dog owners and trainers to pay closer attention to the observation, interpretation, and understanding of canine body language. Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas identified more than 30 body gestures that dogs make in social settings – whether with members of their own species or with humans – that, she postulated, demonstrated an intent to get along with other “pack members.” Rugaas coined the term “calming signals” to collectively describe these gestures and their purpose, and the term has found acceptance and everyday use as dog owners and trainers discuss dog behavior. Clumped behind that deceptively simple phrase, however, is a complex constellation of behaviors that accomplish many more purposes than just “calming.”
Rugaas has asserted that dogs purposely use “calming signals” to calm the other being with whom the dog is interacting. The suggestion is that the behaviors brought under this broad umbrella are deliberate.
Today, many ethologists (people who study animal behavior) speculate that the communications now popularly identified as calming signals are often hardwired, automatic responses rather than deliberate ones, and are far more complicated than a simple attempt to calm a dog’s social partners. They likely have more to do with the presenter’s own state of mind and/or an end goal to affect the behavior of the other dog or human for the purpose of self-preservation – rather than a deliberate intent to change the state of mind of the other being.
Communicative behaviors are adaptive in nature, helping canids maintain peaceful pack relationships without resorting to violence. Ethologists suggest that nonthreatening canine behaviors are more important in keeping the peace in packs than dominance behaviors – that relations are primarily maintained by deference behaviors exhibited by subordinates toward high-ranking members, not dominance displays by the alpha member. Canine social groups may more appropriately be described as deference hierarchies rather than dominance hierarchies.
As such, the dozens of behaviors that have been dubbed calming signals might more appropriately be separated into several subgroups called appeasement (active submission), deference (passive submission), displacement, stress signs, and threat (dominance) displays.
By observing dogs, learning to recognize and respond to the various behaviors in this constellation, your relationships with canines will become richer, and your translations of dogspeak more accurate. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the submissive/subordinate behaviors. We’ll examine other classes of behaviors in future articles.
Please appease me
As stated above, subordinate behaviors can be grouped into two general categories: active submission (appeasement), characterized by increased activity and diminished posture, and passive submission (deference), denoted by decreased activity and lowered body posture. The difference lies in whether the dog offering the submissive behavior desires attention from the higher-ranking individual, or would prefer that the attention he’s receiving go away.
Active submission may also be identified as attention-seeking behavior: nuzzling, licking (including licking ears and lips), jumping up, paw lifts and pawing motions, “smiling,” teeth clacking, crouching, pretzeling, and play-bows. The dog’s ears may be pulled back, and his tail may be wagging expressively, with wide, sweeping movements or circles. These behaviors can often be seen during greetings between dog and owner, or between friendly, compatible dogs.
Passive submission usually involves a dramatic reduction in activity with a goal of diverting attention, and is most often seen in a lower-ranking dog when threats are directed toward him by a higher-ranking member of the social group (dog or human). The dog’s ears may be pressed flat against the head, with his tail tucked between legs. The subordinate dog often freezes, averting eye contact, lowering his head and body, sometimes to the point of going “belly-up” on the ground. Passive submission may also be accompanied by submissive urination.
Below are descriptions of several common submissive behaviors, and suggestions for appropriate responses when the behavior is directed toward humans. When directed toward dogs, submissive behaviors usually elicit appropriate responses from the other canine. In the future, I’ll describe one instance in which submissive behaviors don’t elicit appropriate responses from the other dog: when the other dog responds with increased intimidation – a classic “playground bully.” Dogs who respond to an overt display of submission with increased aggression are not displaying normal canine behavior, and may need special management to prevent them from traumatizing their social partners.
Active submission (appeasement)
Some of the gestures exhibited by a dog who is demonstrating active submission can be obnoxious to us humans. The important thing to recognize is that, with these behaviors, the dog is communicating his recognition that you are his leader, a higher-ranked individual. Be a good leader and let him know how he can best appease you by redirecting his behavior into something less bothersome.
• Nuzzling – Dog pushes muzzle against you, perhaps under your arm or hand. If you respond by giving the dog attention (petting, making eye contact, speaking to him) you are positively reinforcing the behavior and it will continue or increase. This is fine if you like the behavior – and some people do. It can, however, become annoying if the dog is very persistent.
You may prefer to extinguish the behavior using “negative punishment.” When the dog nuzzles you, turn away or even walk away. The dog is seeking attention. If nuzzling consistently evokes the opposite of the intended response – attention goes away – the behavior will stop. Of course, you must educate all family members and visitors to respond to nuzzling in the same way, or the behavior will be randomly reinforced and will persist.
The yellow Lab signals his active submission to the older female Pointer by pretzeling his body, lowering his forequarters and head, lifting a paw, keeping his tail waving big and low, and holding his ears back.
Another option is to put the behavior on cue, and teach the dog that nudging only works to elicit attention when you ask for it. You can also preempt the nuzzle by consistently asking the dog for an incompatible behavior that gains him the attention he seeks. A “sit” or “down” can serve as incompatible and polite attention-seeking behaviors if you consistently give your dog attention for those.
• Licking – Dog licks body parts and clothes, including lip-licking, ear-licking, and nose-licking. Again, if you like this behavior, you can encourage it with positive reinforcement – giving your dog the attention he seeks when he licks.
If you don’t enjoy your dog’s licking, use negative punishment (licking makes you go away) and install an incompatible behavior in its place. Having your dog hold a toy in mouth when he approaches people is a great attention-eliciting behavior that’s incompatible with licking.
• Jumping up – Dog puts paws on human body, often projecting body against human with some force. A lot of small-dog owners don’t seem to object to jumping up as an attention-getter, and a lot of small dogs are incorrigible jump-uppers as a result. Not all people with small dogs like this, however, and most people who live with medium-to-large dogs much prefer four-on-the-floor.
Jumping as an attention-getting behavior is positively reinforced by attention, even behavior that dog owners may offer to try to reduce jumping up, such as pushing the dog away, or telling him to get down. Once again, removing yourself from contact with the dog – taking the attention away – will reduce the behavior, especially if you replace it by reinforcing an incompatible behavior such as sit or down. See the pattern yet?
• Paw lifts and pawing motions – Dog lifts paw or paws at human. While uncontrolled pawing behavior can be annoying, a simple paw lift is a lovely behavior to put on cue and turn into a series of fun and useful behaviors. A paw lift on cue can become “shake,” “wave,” “high five,” and “salute,” and pawing motions can be useful for turning appliances on and off, indicating found objects for dogs doing scent and search work, pushing a ball (canine soccer!), and playing an electronic keyboard. Persistent, annoying pawing is best extinguished by ignoring the behavior and putting an incompatible behavior on cue, such as four-on-the- floor, or a gentle paw lift.
• Teeth clacking – Dog’s teeth click or chatter. This is an innocuous behavior, and one that you can simply ignore – unless you’re an avid trainer and want to encourage it by clicking and treating when the dog offers it, then putting it on cue.
• Crouching – Dog lowers his body closer to the ground. This is also an innocuous attention-seeking behavior. If it bothers you, ignore it, and reinforce your dog when he approaches you standing taller. Training, using positive methods, will also increase your dog’s confidence and decrease incidents where he feels compelled to make himself smaller.
• Pretzeling – Dog corkscrews his body into a “C” shape. This is also a harmless, kind of cute behavior that I’d be tempted to reinforce and put on cue!
• Play bow – Dog lowers his forequarters while keeping his hindquarters elevated. This is a lovely behavior, and I can’t imagine someone wanting to extinguish it. I’d reinforce and put it on cue.
• Smiling – Dog lifts his lips into a grimace that is unaccompanied by other behaviors that would indicate at threat. I see no reason to try to make this behavior go away as long as humans around the dog understand that it’s not an aggressive behavior. I think it’s quite cute! I’d encourage it by clicking and treating when the dog offers a smile, and then put it on cue!
Passive submission (deference)
Deference behaviors are offered by the dog in response to a perceived threat – there doesn’t have to be any intent to threaten on the part of the person interacting with the dog. For all of the deference behaviors listed below, the appropriate response is to determine how/why the dog perceives a human or humans as threatening, and then work to change the dog’s perception through consistent positive associations with the perceived threat(s).
Human behaviors that can be perceived as threatening by a dog (thereby eliciting deference behaviors) include direct eye contact, a full-frontal approach, a loud voice, bending over the dog, and patting him on top of the head.
Punishing or “correcting” a dog for offering a deference behavior is the worst thing you can do if you hope to modify the behavior. He will only intensify his deference in a futile attempt to convince you he’s being subordinate. In a worst-case scenario, he may even become defensively aggressive if his deference signals aren’t working.
Instead, ignore the behaviors when they happen, and work to build your dog’s confidence in relationships by being consistently nonthreatening and insisting others do the same. You can also build confidence through positive training; when the dog has a better understanding of how to influence and predict his environment, his confidence will increase.
A dog’s deference behaviors may include any or all of the following:
• Tail tucked – Dog pulls his tail tightly against his belly to cover and protect his vulnerable underparts. Even dogs with “gay” tails or tails that curl over their backs can do this when sufficiently threatened.
• Freeze – Dog ceases all motion as he attempts to convey his submission to the party threatening him – usually in conjunction with averting eyes.

This dog is motionless, signalling his passive submission to his handler in a force-based training class (complete with choke chain – we don’t approve of either one). His eyes are averted and his tail tucked.
• Averting eye contact – Dog shifts eyes to avoid making eye contact, or actually turns head away.
• Lowering head and body – Dog ducks head and/or crouches closer to the ground.
• “Belly-up” – Dog rolls over on back and exposes vulnerable underparts. (Can also be a simple invitation for a tummy rub when not accompanied by other deference behaviors.)
• Submissive urination – Dog urinates in response to perceived threat (not necessarily an actual threat) in a person’s voice, touch or approach.

Naturally Beautiful Hair ~ Glorious & Gray!

Many of the Silver Foxes I talk to tell me that, while they love their silver halo, it's sometimes problematic to maintain. Their gray hair tends to be drier, duller, courser, and frizzier than their original hair color. I find that mine is drier, more fragile and baby fine. It breaks off easily and it's not as shiny. So I avoid harsh products and chemicals as much as possible. I like to whip up natural treatments, made out of ingredients straight from the kitchen. They're easy, non-toxic, inexpensive, and amazingly effective. These are a few of my favorites~

This recipe for Organic Sage and Rosemary Rinse is specifically for gray hair. It discourages yellowing, and naturally maintains the color of gray hair.

Organic Sage and Rosemary Rinse


1/2 cup organic dried sage

1/4 cup organic dried rosemary


Simmer rosemary and sage in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes, then steep for several hours.

Apply to gray hair and allow to dry, then shampoo.

Repeat weekly until desired shade is reached, then once a month for maintenance.


Rich Mayonaise Conditioner is not exclusively for gray hair, but it's great for dry, fragile, brittle, or over-processed hair. I like to do this one once a month. It's best if you do it on a day when you're not planning to go out, because it leaves hair a little oily. But the next day, when you wash your hair, it will be soft and shiny!

Rich Mayonaise Conditioner


1 cup mayonnaise (room temperature)

1/2 cup olive oil

3 egg yolks


Blend all ingredients together in a bowl.

Apply thoroughly through your hair adding extra at the ends.

Pile on top of your head and cover with a plastic shower cap and then cover with a towel to keep in the heat from your head.

Leave on for at least 10-20 minutes and then rinse out (not wash).

Makes 1 to 2 hair treatments depending on the length of your hair.


This Apple Cider Vinegar Shine Restorer works to restore luster by removing build up from other hair products. It removes tangles and leaves hair smooth and silky. Depending on your hair type, you may want to use it once weekly, or as often as three times weekly. It may cause minimal dryness to hair, so some people like to condition first, then use the rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Shine Restorer


1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups warm water. Add a a drop of essential oil if you like.


Apply to hair.

Now you have a few choices. You may rinse it out if you want, or leave the rinse on your hair. Since the vinegar restores natural pH it also helps prevent an itchy scalp. As your hair is drying you will smell vinegar, but once your hair dries, no smell.


And don't forget Hairbrush Cleaning. A dirty hairbrush just puts the dirt and residue back into your clean, conditioned hair. I like a natural boar bristle brush. Boar bristles are easier on hair than cheapie plastic brushes and they redistribute oils throughout hair, boosting shine. They're more expensive, but well worth it.

Natural Hairbrush Cleaner


Make a mix of half water and half vinegar.

Add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil.


Remove old hair from hairbrush.

Soak hairbrush overnight in cleaner.


Rest, You Must Rest.

Sometimes, the universe in all her wisdom sends you a message, through the whispers of the wind.

You hear her, in a moment of quiet, say, Rest, you need rest. You will feel the truth of her words settle inside your body, as one by one, each part of you starts to tune in.
She will continue and say,
Place your hands on your heart and listen carefully; what do you hear? Stop your brain from moving, stop the thoughts from thinking and listen to your heartbeat. In this stillness, you will feel the exhaustion hiding away in every part of you—your bones, blood, skin, muscle, tissues, organs—your very heart—all crying out for rest; your body, mind, soul and spirit are weary.
And you realize that yes, indeed, you have hopped onto to a fast-moving train, and you are watching it gain speed as the ground becomes a blur below you.
You are human, she reminds me. You are human and you, despite everything that is possible in this world and the next, you cannot move faster than the speed of light or sound—you cannot move so fast and expect to take off and fly without stopping to refill yourself.
As you continue listen to beat of your heart, you know that she is right. You know that you have been moving forward (too quickly) and that you have not been balancing you-time, between work and rest.
You know that you cannot survive on five hours sleep and you know that you need to bring more love and attention into what you’re putting into your body.
You know that you want to keep up with the shifting and change and magic of the world, of the blossoming of this life, but that do so, properly, whole heartedly and without abandon, means stopping, right now, to rest.
The world—your world—that is spinning and sprouting wings, must pause; there is a slight thrill in the thought of taking a day off, and even in the stomach bug that slowly starts to gain on you (for, along with her words of wisdom, the universe has devised a plan that you simply cannot argue with: she has knocked you out of the game—physically—and you know that there is no way out of this rest-thing) and so you send a message from your heart to your mind.

You think to yourself, What is the worst thing that can happen if I take just one day off?

As one day becomes two, before you know it you have cleared your schedule for almost an entire week. Five days; an eternity in the land of the movers and shakers.
You spend your days in the warmth and comfort of your home, not moving around the city from place-to-place, but only from couch-to-bath-to-couch-to-bed and back again.
Mornings and afternoons are spent reading (your imagination has been hungry and you continue to devour books as if you have been starving yourself of this joy without realizing it) and evenings watching movies and eating food made with love.
Bedtime gets earlier and this morning you wake up at 4:56 am, sweating, awake, but groggy, sandwiched between your love and your dog (in an effort to win the ongoing debate of having the dog sleep on the bed at night, both your dog and you understand that it can only continue if he stops pushing your love out of bed and so his new place to snuggle lies on the other side of you); you are between two heartbeats, creators of fantastical heat and you know you must move but it is warm and one of the cats is curled up beside your head and licking your arm.

You rise, slowly, sleepily, doing your best to not disturb your family, rearranging the covers carefully, so that your love is covered and as you shuffle out of the room, you can see the shapes in the bed spreading out to fill the space that was once full of you.

On the couch, you curl up with your favorite blanket that still smells like tobacco and sage, with a tinge of agua de florida, the tools of the trade of your heart, and you settle into the familiar support of the couch. (The bed, as warm a place as it is in your mind, hasn’t been forgiving to the bones of your body lately, and so although you need sleep, the nights have been full of fidgeting as you try to find a place to settle that doesn’t hurt.)
The couch understands and reaches up and wraps it’s arms around you to hold you in a suspended place of love. You hum slightly, as you gaze out of the windows (the windows you wish were covered but are glad are not) and marvel that the birds are up this early, singing brightly.
You will drift into an early morning sleep, the sounds of the birds bringing you back into the time you were in the jungle, until the cats cannot stand to have you so close and yet so far away, and start bellowing for their breakfast.
After rousing yourself to make the animals happy, you crawl back onto your still-warm spot on the couch, this time joined by your partner in crime, seemingly overjoyed by the continued unexpected turn of events (you, curled on the couch, for hours at a time) and he nuzzles his wet nose into you and stretches out his long lean body, in only the ways a dog can do.
You both lie there listening to the birds and the rain, a book, resting on your chest; a mug of hot water with lemon beside you—and the stunning realization that this is your life.
This is your life.

You were moving so fast that you didn’t realize that you had to slow down to bask in how fucking awesome this life is.

You drink it all in and even though you are still feeling off of your game, you know that when you step back into the outside world, your heart will open up and you will welcome the world inside, with a spring in your step and a sparkle in your eye.
You will let love lead the way and you will follow, one step at a time.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Lines from Shakespeare Mistaken for 1990s Hip Hop Lyrics

“I’ll teach you how to flow.” (The Tempest)
“He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce.” (King John)
“I have within my mind / A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks, / Which I will practise.” (The Merchant of Venice)
“That’s an ill phrase.” (Hamlet)
“Holla, holla!” (King Lear)

“I am the dog: no, the dog is himself, and I am the dog–Oh! the dog is me, and I am myself.” (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
“You knights of Tyre / Are excellent in making ladies trip.” (Pericles)
“Just as high as my heart.” (As You Like It)
“Thou art raw.” (As You Like It)
“Our tongue is rough, coz, and my condition is not smooth.” (Henry V)
“Ay, on the front.” (Macbeth)
“Holla, you clown!” (As You Like It)
“Our cake’s dough on both sides.” (The Taming of the Shrew)
“Trip no further, pretty sweeting.” (Twelfth Night)
“Look, when I serve him so, he takes it ill.” (The Comedy of Errors)

Literary Puns with Authors’ Names

I am a sucker for a good pun. I know, I know, it’s a loathsome and vile pastime, and one I manage to keep to myself (and a few very close, unlucky loved ones). I rarely pun in public. But I definitely enjoy the art of punnery.
So it is with equal parts shame and glee that I present to you these literary puns on authors’ names that I found on bookpatrol, done by artist, writer and teacher Timothy Leo Taranto. Originally, these came from therumpus. Here are some of my favorites:

Ladies, You Are at Your Ugliest at This Exact Moment

Why Tolkein’s son hates Peter Jackson’s Hobbit & Lord of the Rings movies so much.

From the department of “all that is Hollywood gold does not glitter.”

Reddit (click over for full, intelligent conversation, particularly first reasonable reply saying the movies are best regarded as “adaptations” and as such were pretty damn great):

If Christopher Tolkien hates the movies so much… how did they get made in the first place?

Because Christopher Tolkien (through the Tolkien Estate) did not control the rights to the film.
United Artists purchased the rights in 1969 and sold them to the Saul Zaentz Company which has since been the licensing body for the films based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as their accompanying merchandise (video games, board games, etc.)
The Tolkien Estate retains the film rights to all of the other works by Tolkien (including The Silmarillion), and Christopher is pretty adamant about not giving them up. For this reason, Peter Jackson’s films can’t refer to any of the history of Middle-earth that isn’t included in the books and the appendices nor can he make a film based on The Silmarillion (Thank Eru!).
What has he said about them?
Christopher Tolkien rarely speaks publicly, but last summer he did an interview which you can find here.
Some choice quotes:
No, Christopher Tolkien’s reserve has a very different explanation: the enormous gap, almost an abyss, which has been created between his father’s writings and their commercial descendants — work he does not recognize, especially since New Zealand film-maker Peter Jackson made Lord of the Rings, three phenomenally successful films, between 2001 and 2003. Over the years, a sort of parallel universe has formed around Tolkien’s work, a world of sparkling images and of figurines, colored by the original books of the cult, but often very different from them, like a continent that has drifted far from its original land mass.

“I could write a book on the idiotic requests I have received,” sighs Christopher Tolkien. He is trying to protect the literary work from the three-ring circus that has developed around it. In general, the Tolkien Estate refuses almost all requests. “Normally, the executors of the estate want to promote a work as much as they can,” notes Adam Tolkien, the son of Christopher and Baillie. “But we are just the opposite. We want to put the spotlight on that which is not Lord of the Rings.

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”
This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”
tl;dr: Christopher Tolkien dislikes that the films have grown more popular than the books and that they are now the dominant representation of Tolkien’s legacy in popular culture. Furthermore, he dislikes that the films are a rather poor adaptation of the books and they made shallow action the main focus.
and how much has he personally done for the series (Tolkien mythos)?
It’s not an understatement to say that second to his father, Christopher has been the most important person in bringing the writings of Middle-earth (and others!) to the public. As a child, he listened to his father’s story of Bilbo Baggins. As a soldier in WW2, he corresponded often with his father about the writing of The Lord of the Rings, and he later greatly assisted in the typing of it. After his father’s death, he left his post at Oxford to work on bringing his father’s work to the public. The Silmarillion was perhaps the most significant accomplishment coming out of this, but the greatest work was The History of Middle-earth — 12 volumes that contain his father’s drafts relating to the writing of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings as well as notes and commentary. He’s also edited and published The Children of Húrin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún and more. (Edit: as /u/TragedyTrousers (and others) have noted, Christopher was also the one responsible for drawing the map of Middle-earth you’re likely familiar with.)
Basically, he’s the person most responsible for letting people read his father’s work, and he’s done much more for Middle-earth than Peter Jackson or anyone else aside from his father (though, unfortunately, Peter Jackson very likely wins the popularity contest, but he’d likely win that even against JRR Tolkien himself).

Quote of the Day: Esperanza Spalding.

“I’m not gonna sit around and waste my precious divine energy trying to explain and be ashamed of things you think are wrong with me.”


Learn to identify and treat canine depression

By Kelly Marshall
dog healthIt may come as a surprise to some people that dogs can experience depression.
Much like humans, dogs can suffer from depression too and the symptoms are very similar. Your dog may not show much interest in activities that he used to enjoy, such as riding in the car, going for walks or playing with toys.
Your dog’s usual eating habits may change; he may stop eating, not eat as much as he used to, or begin overeating and begging for food.
Your dog’s sleeping habits may change too; if your canine was usually active, he may begin to laze about the house and sleep all day long. Conversely, if your dog slept often, he may begin to sleep much less to or be up walking around all night.
Sometimes depression can manifest itself in dogs as a sudden increase in aggression.
If you believe that your canine has begun to act strangely, you should consider the fact that your dog may be depressed.
Sometimes depression in dogs can arise as a result of a physical condition that you may be unaware of. Disorders of the thyroid and kidney can commonly cause lethargy that can have your dog not feeling his usual self. Other chronic conditions such as diabetes can also cause this reaction.
Regardless, you should bring your dog to the veterinarian for a physical checkup to rule out any physical problems.
Depression in dogs can also be caused by mental factors as well; if, for example, one of your younger children has begun to go to school and so is not around to play all the time, your dog can feel lonely.
Older children who move out can also similarly have a dog feeling like he has lost one of his pack-mates, and can cause depression. In addition, the death of another canine in your family can have a similar effect in making your dog depressed.
Fighting depression in dogs is similar to fighting depression in humans; if your dog seems depressed, try to increase your dog’s level of activity and social interaction with other dogs by taking him for more walks or to a dog park.
Even if at first your dog doesn’t show any joy in these activities, if the depression is a result of boredom then he will appreciate it and begin to have fun again.
Social contact is important for dogs; if your canine is kept at home all the time and rarely has contact with other canines, it will be important to get him some socialization time with other dogs.
Failing these options, your veterinarian can prescribe antidepressant drugs for your dog. Keep in mind that antidepressant medication takes a while to take effect, so you should not expect immediate improvement.
After a period of two to four weeks, your canine should definitely be feeling the effects of the antidepressant regiment. For severe cases of depression, both increased activity with your dog and antidepressant medication may be necessary.
With patience, you can have your dog feeling like his old self again.
Kelly Marshall is a featured author on Oh My Dog Supplies. For more articles by Kelly visit Oh My Dog Supplies.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Childless by Choice

January 29, 2013
Childless by ChoiceBeing childless by choice, I’ve faced questions, accusations, controversy, and envy.  Those who choose not to be parents have many different reasons, all very personal.
Some women may feel that they would rather have a career and their independence.  Others don’t want to spoil the genetic gift of a beautiful body.  Some families face the heartbreak of inherited devastating disease.  Genetic counseling about parenting a child with a serious health issue creates the choice not to take the risk. Some people just don’t like children.  In some cultures, poverty makes the decision for the parents, and a pregnancy is terminated rather than have a child who may be a financial burden which destroys an already fragile existence.
Whatever the reasons, and especially in my own case for choosing to remain childless, it is not a decision that is taken lightly, or without a great deal of soul-searching and thought. I don’t dislike children. I enjoy interacting with infants and teens – but never wanted this to be a permanent part of my life.
I made the choice not to be a parent at a very early age. As a teen, I read The Baby Trap by Ellen Peck, which powerfully finalized my decision.  I felt unloved and unwanted by my father, and used to wonder why parents had children if they did not love and want them.  In my family and perhaps that entire generation without adequate birth control, it seemed that people got married and had kids – it was the thing to do, even though there may have been a secret desire not to parent.
I don’t remember ever seeing a family without children when I was growing up, unless the woman was medically unable to reproduce.  I horrified the surgeon who took out my tonsils when I asked him to take out my uterus at the same time – at 13 – because I knew I never wanted to be a parent.  Of course he just took out the tonsils.  I was a vocal, stubborn rebel as a child, and gave my parents, who were far too old to be first-time parents, a hard time.  One of my parent’s reactions sent me the message that having a child made parents angry, depressed, hostile, threatening, physically abusive, tired, and poor.  I had no desire to suffer such an existence, and it reinforced my choice to remain childless.  I also had such low self-esteem as a child and young adult that I believed I was not worth reproducing, and told my parents I wished I’d never been born.
Family and friends told me that I would change my mind and welcome parenthood if I ever became pregnant accidentally.  I had nightmares throughout my reproductive years about that scenario becoming a reality.  I believe a woman’s body is hers alone to control, and politicians and others of strong beliefs have no right to control a woman’s most personal and private choices.  I remember babysitting as a teen, a valuable proving ground to see if I really didn’t want children.  Even with nice children, those experiences convinced me that parenthood is a gift from God to the right person, but I was definitely not one of the recipients.  I am in awe of anyone who is able to parent successfully.  It must be the most difficult lifetime commitment in human existence, and even more difficult for women today who are trying to have it all.
My truly wonderful husband survived years of experimental treatment for multiple cancers from Agent Orange during his Air Force service.  He was genetically murdered by the treatments, and his doctors warned him against ever having children. When we met, and he told me this, I told him that I had never wanted children anyway, and we were blessed to be in agreement on this very delicate issue.  He loved children, and his large family provided ample opportunity to interact with children without having any in our own life.
It never bothers me if people ask why I’m childless, but it does make me curious why people are interested in my reproductive choice.  Some actually express envy of my childless existence.  Others remark that I’m selfish.  Some have asked if I had a medical problem, or was infertile. I’m asked if I don’t like children. I sometimes sense pity when people discover that I am a childless widow.   I get questions or comments about who will take care of me when I’m old and alone.  In my opinion, having children in the hope they will provide parental care late in life is a terrible reason to be a parent, and there is no guarantee that those children will still be part of the family or even care.  Children do become estranged as they become adults, or choose not to remain within the family.
I have never had any regrets about not having children, and the longer I live, the more this personal choice has proved it was the correct one for me.  In my newly discovered freedom and independence as a widow, I’ve become my own child.  As I grow into new adulthood, I give myself the love, approval, kindness, support, understanding, and forgiveness I lacked as a child, and which I would have given to any child I gave birth to if I had desired to be a parent. I’m a parent despite being childless in the traditional sense – I’ve given birth to a better me, after 50.

The top 100 most searched for out-of-print books

Our friends at BookFinder compile one of the most interesting lists in the book business – the top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in the United States. Sadly, books fall out-of-print when publishers decide that there isn’t enough demand. That’s when the used book market becomes important for ensuring that these hard-to-find titles can still be found and bought.
The most recent list is diverse. Madonna’s famous Sex (one of the book’s few images that we could publish is seen left) is top of the list as always and Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini – dubbed the world’s weirdest book – is also in the top 10. There’s also a cookbook from actor and fine food connoisseur Vincent Price.
There are many famous authors on the list, including Stephen King (twice), Nora Roberts, Ray Bradbury, Barbara Cartland, Carl Sagan, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. There are also books from major artists like Salvador Dali and Cecil Beaton, and the autobiography of musician Johnny Cash.
A small number of these books are so scarce now that even AbeBooks booksellers do not have copies. In some cases, only a handful of copies are now available which means prices have become high.

Top 100 Most Searched for Out-of-Print Books

1. Sex
by Madonna
2. Rage
by Stephen King/Richard Bachman
3. Promise Me Tomorrow
by Nora Roberts
4. My Pretty Pony
by Stephen King
5. Pure, White & Deadly; The Problem of Sugar
by John Yudkin
6. Mandingo
by Kyle Onstott
7. Man in Black
by Johnny Cash
8. Codex Seraphinianus
by Luigi Serafini
9. 365 Bedtime Stories
by Nan Gilbert
10. Tudor Roses
by Alice Starmore
11. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
by Cameron Crowe
12. A Treasury of Great Recipes
by Mary & Vincent Price
13. Dark Carnival
by Ray Bradbury
14. The Jerusalem Bible
illustrated by Salvador Dali
15. Sisters
by Lynne Cheney
16. Arithmetic Progress Papers
by H. Henry Thomas
17. Beyond the Plough
by Janet Woods
18. Labyrinth: A Novel
by A.C.H. Smith
19. In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting
by Ray Garton
20. I Go Pogo
by Walt Kelly
21. Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles
by Linda Dawson & Terry Furchgott
22. Advise and Consent
by Allen Drury
23. The Centurions
by Jean Larteguy
24. Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days
by J.R. Hartley
25. Little Witch
by Anna Elizabeth Bennett
26. Collector’s Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols
by Charles W. Clawson
27. Reflections of Nero Culture, History & Representation
by Jaś Elsner
28. The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition
by C.S. Lewis
29. The Bishop’s Wife
by Robert Nathan
30. Ilsa
by Madeleine L’Engle
31. The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI, 1895-1952
by Sarah Bradford
32. Murmurs of Earth
by Carl Sagan
33. Cards As Weapons by Ricky Jay
34. British Battleships of World War Two
by Alan Raven & John Roberts
35. The Book of Indians
by Clancy Holling
36. Halloween
by Curtis Richards
37. Good Vibes
by Jay Cronley
38. The Golden Book of the Civil War
by Charles Flato
39. Ticket to Ride
by Dennis Potter
40. Hell, I Was There
by Elmer Keith
41. House of Bondage
by Ernest Cole
42. The Pink Dress
by Anne Alexander
43. The Big Country
by Donald Hamilton
44. Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank
by R.P. Hunnicutt
45. Big League Sales Closing Techniques
by Les Dane
46. A Payroll to Meet: A Story of Greed, Corruption, and Football at SMU
by David Whitford
47. Too Good to be Threw
by Kate Holmes
48. A Treasury of American Prints
by Thomas Craven
49. To Drop a Dime
by Paul Hoffman
50. Country Landscapes in Watercolor
by John Blockley
51. Crochet Lace: An illustrated Guide to Making Crochet Lace Fabrics
by Mary Konior
52. The Glass of Fashion
by Cecil Beaton
53. The Act of Creation
by Arthur Koestler
54. Bowman of Crecy
by Ronald Welch
55. The Windflower
by Laura London
56. The King Ranch
by Tom Lea
57. The Assembly Line
by Milt Tenopir
58. Practical Gunsmithing
by Edward Matunas
59. Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany
by W Somerset Maugham
60. The Star Conquerors
by Ben Bova
61. Eve of the End
by Allan D Richter
62. Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor
by Joseph Zbukvic
63. Second Sight
by David Williams
64. Covenant with Death
by John Harris
65. The Blood Star
by Nicholas Guild
66. McCoys: Their Story as Told to the Author by Eye Witnesses and Descendants
by Truda Williams McCoy
67. The Magic Talisman
by John Blaine
68. The Vision and Beyond
by David Wilkerson
69. The House Without Windows
by Barbara Newhall Follett
70. Pancakes A to Z
by Marie Simmons
71. She Is The Darkness
by Glen Cook
72. Cyborg
by Martin Caidin
73. Currier & Ives: Printmakers to the American People
by Harry Twyford Peters
74. The Wonderful Fashion Doll
by Laura Bannon
75. Jennie / The Abandoned
by Paul Gallico
76. The Bumper Book: A Harvest of Stories and Verses
by Watty Piper
77. The Modern Gunsmith
by James Virgil Howe
78. Drum
by Kyle Onstott
79. Carriage Entrance
by Polan Banks
80. The Septuagint Bible
by Charles Thomson
81. Basic Building Data: 10,000 Timeless Construction Facts
by Don Graf
82. Notations
by John Cage
83. Birds of Britain
by John D. Green
84. Apple Pigs
by Ruth Orbach
85. The Ideal Communist City
by Alexei Gutnov
86. Coal
by Jason Grant
87. War in the Modern Great Power System 1495-1975
by Jack S. Levy
88. A Treasury of Grand Opera
edited by Henry W. Simon
89. Our Journey in the Life
by Doyle C. Barnes
90. Approaches to Translation
by Peter Newmark
91. The Black Sun
by Kyle Onstott & Lance Horner
92. Turkish Delight
by Jan Wolkers
93. Almonds and Raisins
by Maisie Mosco
94. Alvin Fog, Texas Ranger
by John Thomas Edson
95. Basic Medical Laboratory Subjects
by Hugh Woosley
96. Hand and Rod Puppets
by Hansjurgen Fettig
97. The Lost Boys
by Craig Shaw Gardner
98. 102 Favorite Paintings
by Norman Rockwell
99. The Imperialists
by William Stuart Long
100. Against the Stream
by Barbara Cartland

The two guide dogs who led their owners down 70 floors in the World Trade Center before the towers collapsed on September 11 by Lee Hargraves 

The two guide dogs who led their owners down 70 floors in the World Trade Center before the towers collapsed on September 11
Guide dogs Salty and Roselle were awarded a joint Dickin Medal “For remaining loyally at the side of their blind owners, courageously leading them down more than 70 floors of the World Trade Center and to a place of safety following the terrorist attack on New York on 11 September 2001.”

Not All Buddhists Are Vegetarians. ~ Matthew King

Photo: Hartwig HKD

Vegetarianism in Buddhism: Competing Views on the Ethics of Consuming Animal Foods.

It is 5:45 in the morning, and in a Zen temple in Kyoto 10 monks sit in two rows on a thatched rice floor facing each other, with the abbot of the temple at their head.
They chant a sutra which they recite before every meal, acknowledging the vast chain of cause and effect that has made food available to them, vowing to use the food offered as a medicine to sustain them in the quest for enlightenment. The monks untie the cloth surrounding their oryoki, the three bowls from which all their meals are taken, and lay them down on the low table, waiting for each bowl to be filled with rice gruel, pickled plums, and ground sesame seeds. This is the first of three meals for the day, none of which will contain meat. In the Zen tradition, a specific type of vegetarian cuisine has been developed and refined since the 13th century.
Across the city in a Pure Land temple a large group of ministers (as they prefer to be called) sits down in a cafeteria in Western style chairs at tables, and after their own pre-meal chant begin to eat a meal which includes fish, eggs, rice, and seaweed.
Further west, in Burma, Thailand, and Laos, monks clad in orange and maroon robes travel through the streets in a single file line, walking with their alms bowls in hand past rows of lay devotees who fill the receptacles with sticky rice, fruit, meat, and fish, which will be the sole meal of the day for the monks. Within the world of Buddhism various sects hold constrain beliefs about eating, as well as differing practices and degrees of ritual in the process of taking sustenance. There are as many unique sets of beliefs about food in Buddhism as there are nations and indigenous cultures where the religion has taken root, and one of the main issues of complication in the western conception of Buddhist eating habits is the indefinite status of meat as acceptable fare. The heart of the fragmented beliefs about meat eating arises mainly from the split between the two textual traditions of the Theravada and Mahayana and the contradicting teachings about meat eating contained within them.
Buddhist monks recieving alms. Photo: Chadica
In terms of core doctrines, both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions emphasize similar principles, and only with respect to a few issues are clear-cut divisions really made. Both traditions use five fundamental precepts as the guiding principles for living a life in accord with the Buddha’s teachings, which are: to refrain from taking life, to refrain from theft, to refrain from harmful sexual relationships, to refrain from lying, and to refrain from intoxicants. These precepts are all applications of the greater principle of ahimsa, or refraining from causing harm, which lies at the core of a Buddhist lifestyle. This principle is elaborated in the Dhammapada when the Buddha proclaims that “All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill. All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill” (Bodhipaksa, Vegetarianism). This very basic reasoning for the cultivation of empathy is the key to understanding Buddhist ethics. In his work Vegetarianism, Bodhipaksa asserts that “Once we understand that another being’s suffering is as real as ours, then something shifts in our feeling and actions. With the arising of empathy we become more ethical in our actions, and without empathy true ethics are not possible” (Vegetarianism, 43). The working of empathy is indeed the crux of ethics as the Buddhist worldview holds that all forms of life are forever interconnected by chains of cause and effect. This is how karma functions in that causing harm to another will eventually return to another emanation of the being which initially caused the harm. It is from this fear of sowing the seeds of one’s own suffering that Buddhism aims to prevent individuals from harming any sentient being.
This principle, however, represents an ideal that is extraordinarily difficult to employ in everyday life due to the myriad activities we partake in which necessarily result in death and destruction on some level. Nevertheless the ideal of remaining completely free from the stain of harming others is maintained, and it is in the hopes of better fulfilling this goal that some forms of Buddhism have developed restrictions against eating meat. There are a number of sutras in both textual traditions of Buddhism that pertain to meat eating. It is uncertain exactly who wrote these sutras, and indeed they were written down no earlier than five-hundred years after the death of the Buddha who sowed the seeds of the teachings . While memorization and oral repetition of the sutras were primary practices of early devotees, it is only logical to assume that over 500 years certain central tenets and concepts were changed, erased, and even made up, as per changes in the social order in regions where the religion expanded, as well as the changing beliefs of practitioners (Compassion, 59-60). Nevertheless, these changes exist in both sets of scripture which were largely composed concurrently. Therefore both must be taken for what they are: attempted approximations of the Buddha’s teachings that, despite changes by authors, represent the only available insight into the man’s actual words. With this disclaimer it is possible to begin a thorough textual analysis of the Buddha’s varying attitudes toward the consumption of meat, beginning with the Mahayana sutras.
The longest exposition of reasons against eating meat is presented in the Lankavatara Sutra in which the Buddha responds to a request from his disciple Mahamati to explain why meat should not be eaten. Upon this request the Buddha replies:
Mahamati, a loving and compassionate bodhisattva should not eat meat. It is not easy…to come upon a being who, in the endless ages of samsara, has not been once your father or your mother, your brother or your sister, your son or your daughter, kinsman, friend, or close companion. Your kith and kin in one existence, they have donned a different shape in later lives…Since Bodhisattvas look upon all beings…as their dearest children, they must shy away from every type of meat. (qtd. in Shabkar,Food, 48-49)
This passage highlights the interconnectedness of all beings as a primary reason for abstinence from meat. However, the notion that a being that is an animal in this life was a close friend or relative of yours in a past life seems to go against the Buddhist doctrine of anatman, or the refutation of an essential or eternally existing self. It is implied in the above passage that some aspect of consciousness of the past being is present in the current life form, yet to make this conform with the doctrine of anatman it is necessary to view this not as the reproduction of a consciousness in a different body. Rather it should be interpreted that in the unlimited time of suffering and rebirth all beings at some point have an intimate connection with another, and due to this the view that beings are separate entities with no relation or obligation to each other is false. Therefore the practice of seeing your child in the face of animals is a tool for awakening compassion toward beings that one would not otherwise feel a particular connection to. Through this basic level of empathy, the Buddha argues, one becomes so averse to the notion of consuming meat as to finds repulsive.
Vegetarian meal from Sanchon Temple, Insadong. Photo: Julie Facine
Having bidden the audience to abstain from meat the Buddha then elaborated upon what could be eaten by his disciples to show the vast array of food that was still available for consumption. In laying out what can be consumed he brings up the problem of future interpretation of the monastic code he dictates, stating:
For my disciples, I prescribe a fitting nourishment: rice and barley, wheat and peas, every kind of bean and lentil, butter, oil, honey, treacle, fruits, and sugar cane. I do this, Mahamati, because the time will come when fools whose minds are busy with speculation will chatter about the Vinaya. And strong in their desire for meat due to habit, the will say that flesh is wholesome fare. (Shabkar,Food )
The acknowledgement that future disputes will arise out of interpretation of the vinaya, or the monastic regulations, is telling of the Buddha’s great foresight (as such disputes still occur today), but raises the question of why he left the regulations unclear before his death. While this passage attempts to clarify his policy on animal foods, which it does with regard to meat eating, it also poses a problem by advancing a teaching conflicting with another on the acceptability of a variety of animal foods. In this sutra he stipulates some animal foods as acceptable fare, whereas in the Surangama Sutra he declares:
How can a bhikkshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings? Pure and earnest bhikksus, if they are earnest and sincere, will never wear clothing made of silk, nor wear boots of leather, because it involves the taking of life. Neither will they indulge on cheese, because thereby they are depriving the young animals of that which rightly belongs to them. (Phelps, Compassion)
Here the Buddha takes the principle of ahimsa to the ideological extreme that vegans today promote, in admonishing the consumption or use any products that rob animals of life, liberty, or nourishment. While in the Lankavatara Sutra he expressly names honey and butter are noted as wholesome foods, the Surangama Sutra directly contradicts it by implying that no substance obtained from an animal may be consumed or worn by his disciples. Both honey and milk are foods meant for the nourishment of their own kind and therefore the theft of these substances by humans results in either the malnourishment or deaths of animals, and thus ahimsa is violated. This far-reaching declaration that all attire and food in any way derived from animals is prohibited would certainly complicate life for many lay and monastic practitioners, and this tension will be reexamined below.
In the Theravada tradition there is only one primary text in which the Buddha tolerates his disciples eating meat, and in it he condones it so long as the meat has been placed in the alms bowl of a monk and three conditions are met. In the Jivaka Sutta the Buddha says of meat: “And in three cases I allow it – if there is no evidence either of your eyes or of your ears and if there be no grounds of suspicion that the living being was killed for oneself” (Kapleau, Cherish). Here the Buddha’s logic is that if a monk partakes in meat it is not necessarily his fault that the animal was killed because supposedly it would have been killed anyways; the monk receives the meat by chance, and whether the meat was given to him or eaten by the lay person offering it the animal would have been killed anyways. This reasoning is quite similar to the argument that lay people use to justify purchasing meat from a market, claiming that they had no role in the animal’s death, they just happened to purchase it.
Photo: Mark Crossfield
Both of these attempts to shift the blame to the butcher are wrong because they do not take into account the root cause of the animal’s slaughter. It is the intent to feed human beings flesh that leads to the death of the animal, and that intent is usually agnostic to the end-consumer. Therefore both monks who receive meat as alms as well as lay people who purchase meat from the market sanction and contribute to the death of the animal they eat by the very act of accepting that meat as wholesome food. Despite the flaw in this logic it still stands today as the justification used by Theravada monks for their acceptance of meat on their alms rounds.
The issue of meat placed in an alms bowl, which meets the criterion of not having been slaughtered specifically for a monk, is brought up in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, a Mahayana teaching in which the Buddha is asked by Kashyapa if he allows the consumption of meat. The Buddha replies that meat eating “destroys the attitude of great compassion,” to which Kashyapa responds by asking if the Buddha had allowed meat that was not slaughtered specifically for oneself. The Buddha replies that:
I…established rules of discipline in relation to specific individuals. Consequently, with a certain purpose in mind, I did give permission to eat meat regarded as suitable for consumption after it has been subjected to the threefold examination. In other contexts I have proscribed ten kinds of meat. And yet again, with someone else in mind, I have declared that it is improper to consume meat of any kind, even of animals that have died of natural causes. But I have affirmed, O Kashyapa, that henceforth, all those who are close to me should abstain from meat. (Shabkar, Food)
Here the Buddha admits to having a shifting scale of ethics that he prescribes to various individuals, saying that the cases in which he allows certain kinds of meat to be eaten were tailored in order to aid an individual in overcoming their addiction to meat. Yet his final sentence in this passage affirms that from that point on he denounces all meat eating. The contrast between this attitude and that of hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil expressed in the Jivaka Sutta shows that the Buddha most likely had changed his mind on this rule, as he often did regarding monastic codes (Phelps, Compassion). In light of these opposing viewpoints, however, it is only reasonable to err on the side of non-harm as this would certainly be most in line with the majority of the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and the interconnectedness of all phenomena.
It is now necessary to return to the Buddha’s sentiment toward abstinence from all animal byproducts expressed in the Surangama Sutra. As was mentioned earlier the encouragement to refrain from the consumption of all products derived from animals would indeed be the practice that is closest to the ideal of ahimsa, but this stipulation brings with it great difficulties for practitioners in all geographical regions, especially so in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, India, and Nepal. As most crops cannot be cultivated at elevations higher than 12,000 feet, animals and their byproducts are absolutely necessary in order to sustain life there (Shabkar, Food). Even if these practitioners believe strongly enough in the Mahayana Buddhist teachings that are the pillars of their societies, to abstain from the consumption of an animal’s flesh and their milk would result in serious issues of malnutrition. In the composition Food of the Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat, translated and published by the Padmakara Translation Group, it is affirmed that there are indeed vegetarian lamas in Tibet who eat only the “three white foods” which are yak milk, yak butter, and tsampa, a bread made from barley flour (Shabkar, Food). In this context the consumption of yak butter and yak milk by humans clearly robs the yak’s offspring of these foods, and therefore goes against the principle elaborated in the Surangama Sutra. Yet these are the only alternatives to animal flesh and without them severe health problems would develop in more austere devotees. This issue hints at the existence of a hierarchical structure of foods in Buddhism in which some animal foods are worse to eat than others.
Prayer flags in Tibet. Photo: Desmond Kavanagh
The view that some types of animal foods are more laden with negative karma than others appears in a number of regions. In Tibetan texts it is mentioned in the tantra of The Compassionate One, Churning the Depths of Samsara, from a tantric form of Buddhism practiced only in parts of the Himalayas. The text says:
Actions motivated by stupidity are performed if one drinks blood…A greater defilement comes from eating even a small fragment of meat than from drinking alcohol. It is a greater evil to drink one drop of the blood of an animal killed by oneself than to eat meat for a hundred years the flesh of animals killed by others. (Shabkar, Food)
This passage begins the highly technical and entirely subjective process of detailing exactly what the negative consequences of eating certain foods are, and reveals the opacity of Buddhist ethics as applied to food. Yet this process performs a necessary role for Buddhist practitioners by allowing them to make excuses as to why some forms or life are less harmful to eat than others, however arbitrary or obtuse the reasoning behind these justifications may be.
Out of this psychological need to classify beings according to the value of their lives large and elaborate hierarchies of foods that are shunned have been created that vary according to region. Yudru Tsomu, a doctoral candidate of Tibetan Studies at Harvard, is originally from Tibet and is lay Buddhist practitioner. When asked about meat eating in Tibet, she remembers of her time there that:
My grandmother would never eat fish, shrimp, insects, or chickens when they were available. Only rarely would she eat the meat of larger animals like a cow or yak, claiming that this was not so bad because these animals could feed with its one life many more people than could hundreds of fish or hundreds of thousands of insects. Even so, after eating the meat she would pray for the animal to obtain a better birth in the future.
Whether this view was inculcated by the Buddhist teachers whom Yudru’s grandmother received instruction from, or whether it was a creation of her own logic is unclear. In either case it is clear that the sentiment is motivated by the principle of ahimsa, and in this example the logic on which the hierarchy of shunned foods is based seems quite clear – large animals are better to eat because they can feed many more people, and therefore net destruction of life is reduced. Beyond Tibet the hierarchical demarcation of animal foods appears in Sri Lanka, albeit in a more obtuse form, where:
…Animals [have] different degrees of value. For example, beef was the worst to eat, meat itself was worse than fish, and eggs were also worse than fish but not as bad as meat. There was also a general hierarchy based on the size, value and apparent closeness to humans of the animal in question. (Kembel, Restrictions)
The stigma of different foods in this instance has little to no correlation with the amount of lives being expended which the Tibetan example displayed. While this example claims that the hierarchy is affected by a number of factors these factors seem unwieldy in their application to the relationships in this example. For instance how could an egg (which does not necessarily result in the death of an animal) be considered worse to eat than a fish? This demonstrates the unique criteria and logic that each culture brings to its food discriminations which transcend any rigid set of rules as no authoritative textual elaboration seems to exist.
Thus far it has been shown that the main tradition of Buddhism which seems to be indifferent to meat eating is the Theravada tradition, yet in Japan there is a regional sect from that Mahayana tradition that practically embraces meat. When in Kyoto I stayed at the headquarters of the Nishi-Hongwanji Ha, one of the two main temples of the Japanese Pure Land Sect, for a five day retreat. I had assumed, wrongly, that all traditions of Japanese Buddhism adhered to a vegetarian diet, but at the first meal I attended at the temple it was clear that this was not the case. However, after informing the cooking staff that I was vegetarian they were more than happy to provide me with meatless dishes, although on a few occasions I was served a pounded fishcake indicating that they were unaware that I considered fish to be a meat. The reason that the sect rejects a vegetarian diet is based on the main philosophy of the school. Its tenets are characterized by the sect’s founder Shinran is his work True Teaching, Practice, and Realization of the Pure Land Way, in which he declares that:
Thoughts of greed and desire incessantly defile any goodness of the heart; thoughts of anger and hatred constantly consume the Dharma-Treasure. Even if one urgently acts and urgently practices as though sweeping fire from one’s head, all these acts must be called “poisoned and sundry good,” and “false and deceitful practice.” They cannot be called “true and real action.” (Shinran)
Wat in Mae Hong Son, Thailand Photo:
This interpretation posits that human beings are inherently evil and are products of karma from past lives. As wretched beings it is therefore impossible to commit any form of good deed in this existence, and due to this the Pure Land sect rejects any precepts or attempts to guide the morality of its adherents. Therefore the principle of ahimsa could not be less important to them, and as such they reject that any good could come of abstaining from meat. While in this instance there is a textual and doctrinal justification ignoring the principle of ahimsa, there are other anecdotes about Japanese Buddhism that suggests that meat eating is tacitly condoned.
When visiting Eiheiji, the head temple of the Soto Zen sect in Japan, my professor told me a story about his time at the temple. He had trained as a monk at Eiheiji for two years, and one day he was asked to deliver a message to one of his teachers who was in a nearby town. His teacher was at a meeting of all the heads of temples from the area, and when he entered the building where the meeting took place he was astonished to see thirty abbots of Zen temples, each dining on a large beef steak. The abbots were stunned to see a foreigner walk in and were quite embarrassed that they had been caught in the act of eating meat. Also, feeling bad for the new arrival who had missed lunch to deliver the message, they each cut a portion off of their steak and passed them to him, asking him politely to refrain from mentioning the incident to his peers. On another occasion in a Zen monastery I was presented with a meal of soup and in addition to the soup a fish based sauce was passed around with it, with a warning given to vegetarians in the room that it was derived from fish. These incidents demonstrate that even within sects that follow Mahayana traditions of abstaining from meat there is a lax attitude toward actually dedicating oneself to the principle of ahimsa. Meat eating is such a culturally ingrained phenomenon that many either do not consider the effects that their consumption has on animals, or they simply do not care.
It is evident that in many parts of the Buddhist world vegetarianism is the ideal means of sustaining oneself. However, both lay and monastic Buddhist devotees seem to be largely unable to maintain such a diet, in some cases due to lack of adequate vegetarian foods, and in others due to a strong preference for meat foods. As time goes on and new debates about Buddhist ethics continue this attitude may or may not be changed, but an interesting phenomenon is the rise of Buddhism in the western world where vegetarianism as a part of ahimsa seems to be slightly more accepted and encouraged. Indeed in many Zen temples in the United States strict vegetarian diets seem to be the norm, and vegan options are often provided for those who desire to take ahimsa to its logical conclusion (Schneider). As a dialogue grows between Buddhist communities in the east and west an interesting exchange if ideas on ethics is sure to occur, and through this there remains some hope that at the very least a universal understanding of the application of ahimsa through a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle will be reached. Nevertheless it remains unlikely that the extensive changes needed to make abstinence from animal foods the norm will occur.
After graduating from school in January of 2009 from Harvard University with an AB in the Comparative Study of Religion I moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked in a variety of trades from college test preparation to coaching a high school rowing team. I later co-founded and spent a year working as the Director of Logistics and Operations for Quetsol S.A., a micro-scale solar company in Guatemala aiming to provide 500,000 families without electricity with access to LED illumination and cell phone charging systems. I also served as a consultant for Core Foods which produces an organic, whole food meal replacement bar called the Core Meal, now available in Whole Foods and Costco in the Bay Area. The path of spirituality kept calling me and so I earned RYT – 200 Yoga Teacher certification at the end of February 2010, which I did through Laura Camp’s Camp Yoga at the Monkey Yoga Shala in Oakland. After moving to Guatemala I continued to pursue the path of sharing yoga with others and earned RYT-500 hour certification in July 2010 with Vedantin Ping Luo of School Yoga Institute in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala. I was blessed to live and teach/facilitate two yoga teacher trainings in Guatemala on Lago de Atitlán from July-December of 2010 where I began studying ayurveda, herbalism, Sanksrit language, Mayan cosmology, and shamanic energy healing with Vedantin and Mayan Elder Tata Pedro Cruz as well as through personal study. I have now returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and my mission is to share my experience in entrepreneurship, business, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, shamanic energy healing, and Buddhist studies with businesses, start-ups, NGOs, and yoga studios around the Bay.