Mahavir Jayanti & the Sixth Sense

Sunday, April 12, Mahavir Jayanti was celebrated at the Hindu Temple & Cultural Center in Brothell. Mahavir’s birthday was April 12 but we Jains celebrated it on the 12th. I’d say about 100-120 people were there, mostly mothers & fathers with their young kids. Older people were also there with just a handful of young people for good measure. All of the songs and most of the services were in Gujarati so I didn’t understand a word. At least Jain Bingo was in English. Jain Bingo was a fun way to learn about Jainism. The moderator asked questions and the answer would be a Jain term such as Trishala Mata (Mahavir’s mother) or her 16th dream (swapna) which is throne. I didn’t know all the words but at least I understood the concepts. I did win the game but I didn’t get to carry any of the swapnas on the stage because someone else also had my score and their name was drawn randomly out of a hat to carry the swapna. Yes, I’m very disappointed. I really wish I had a chance to join the procession because I do take Jainism seriously. Oh well, maybe next year.

 

This morning I got to thinking about senses and animal hierarchy, specifically, Jain interpretation. The simplest life forms have one sense. The highest life form, mankind, has six. In addition to the normal five there’s also the highly developed sense of creativity. Some animals can build nests, others dams, but our imagination is limitless. And, as the highest life form, we should be concerned with the welfare of all other life forms, hence the extreme Jain diet.

 

Anyway, i was going to swear off cussing today because I wanted to focus more on ahimsa, the vow of non-violence in thoughts, deeds and actions. Yes, that extends to profanity which are essentially words of damnation, but I’m also a writer and people do use profanities which I’m compelled to write for literary accuracy. I am really working hard on not being quick to cuss people, though. Some people can push your buttons and drag the worst out of you. Instead of reading them the riot act I should counter with something like, “Your ideas are so noted and will be considered.” If that stops the enmity then I did good. i hate arguing anyway.

 

The next Jain activity will be a 5K walk/run at Marymoor Park in June. It’s a chance to spread the word of Jainism. It is unfortunate that most of the Jains around here speak only Gujarati. In fact, the only westerner at the celebration was probably me. I must have stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the sea of Indians all around me. I’ve been to HTCC a few times so I am getting used to the place, plus, I think some of the Jains recognize me anyway and should be comfortable around me by now. If not, I’m not worried about it. Acceptance of different thoughts and cultures are one of the hallmarks of Jainism so I’m not worried.

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Regressing to Childhood

Yeah, I’m doing that. I can feel it. I can see it. There are  signs all around me, and the question is, is that good or bad? I’m not taking any steps to stop this regression, though, because it seems out of my control. Here’s what’s bringing me around to my childhood years.

1. Return to high school weight. For the past 30 years or so I’ve been a drinker. Some days were heavier than others but I still drank like a fish when I had the time and money. I’ve been sober nearly 8 months now and I’ve lost weight. I also had a fiendish gout attack a few months ago which lasted for two months and caused me to lose 20 pounds because I had no appetite. A year ago my weight ballooned up to 221 pounds. Now I weigh 170. My BMI is in the safe range so I’m not complaining, plush I feel more energetic. Generally, I’ve become a skinny person again except for my protruding belly. I’m sure that, too, will disappear as time marches on. When I first came to the U.S., when I was 12, I was nothing but sticks and bones. You could see my ribs from down the street. This was perfect for gymnastics and ballet but made me a target for the bullies. I never ate that much back then anyway. I isolated, especially at lunch time when the kids turned into feral animals. I stayed away from them as much as possible, which brings me to my second point.

2. My childhood behaviours are coming back. Here at Aloha Inn I try to avoid the dining room as much as possible, too. It’s a little too noisy for me with people chattering away, dishes clanking, the radio being on, people walking back and forth, the sound from the cars passing by on Aurora Ave., etc. It can get a bit overwhelming so I mostly eat up here in my room. I also used to have deep, focused interests in the things I was in to and often neglected to eat. I also held my urine in until my bladder was near to exploding. Some of the things I was in to, like birds of the world, international flags, international stamps, plane models, etc consume me, which was good. Kept me out of trouble anyway. Back then I was also an awkward speaker; that is, I said outlandish things which made people cringe or disappear. Yeah, I was one of those little professors who used a lot of big words and read the newspapers instead of playing outside. Of course, I started wearing glasses at 10 and by then my vision as already so bad that my glasses were thick, thick to the point of ridicule. Very troubling, indeed. I withdrew from people anyway. Life was better that way.

3. As a consequence of isolating and my craziness, I had no friends. That’s okay. Books were my friends. They never let me down anyway. Today, I still have no friends. I can make friends but I just can’t keep ’em. Somewhere along the way they will disappear and leave me alone. And since I really can’t relate to people my age I just stay alone. I’ve always felt like a 25 year old trapped in a 52 year old body. Maybe there is some arrested development going on, I don’t know. I wouldn’t doubt it, though.

4. Back in my childhood years I used to rock back and forth incessantly. Naturally, they called me Rockin’ Robin. It used to drive people crazy and they often told me to quit it. Eventually, I did. A similar behavior has returned in the form of my shaking legs. Again, it drives people nuts and they bring it to my attention every time. Of course, I don’t realize it, but they often complain that I’m creating an earthquake or causing the table to move. A counselor at CPC Northgate admonished me for shaking because the chatter from my watch’s metal band was giving her a stroke.

5. When I was a kid, if you attempted to blow up a balloon around me, I’d freak and run. This lasted for years. Just the thought of a balloon popping made my heart race. I guess that was because the sound was too sudden and loud when the balloon popped. That same feeling of sounds being too loud has strangely returned. The telephone in this room must be the loudest on earth. It’s freakingly loud and makes me jump. My roommate’s cell phone alarm is also so loud that it makes me jump. It seems like he happens to have the one cell phone with the loudest alarm. His snoring is also loud. In fact, it’s the loudest snoring I’ve ever heard from anyone. I keep thinking he should see a sleep therapist because there could be something serious going on.

6. Back when I was a kid I also went for long walks on the beach to avoid people and the accompanying noises which irked me. Today, I still get overwhelmed from too many visual and auditory stimuli flying into me at once. It’s very distracting. This is especially bad when I’m driving because it’s caused me to drive up the wrong street, caused me to drive right past streets I’m familiar with, and made me get out of the car without putting it on park which, of course, has caused the car to roll a few times. I’ve also noticed that I see too many things when I’m driving so I keep the radio off and try not to look on either side of me as I drive.

7. One thing I’m not looking for to return is the constipation. Back then I used to hold my bowels for about 5 days. When the poo was to come out it was like trying to pass a brick. I think this probably developed because in Trinidad we just had latrines, outhouses. I was always scared that a snake or whatever would jump out and attack so I learned to hold it in. Of course, I never really had much to eat anyway so it’s not like I was having a perpetual smorgasbord. I don’t eat meat, including seafood, anymore. Since I’m a Jain I’ve also tried to cut down on root vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, etc. Beginning today I’m going to attempt a strict (ascetic) Jain diet. That means I’ll have to eschew milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, carrots, yams, and any plants that, when cultivated, kills them, like cabbage and other greens. I think this is also in preparation for Mahavir Jayanti which is April 2 but will be celebrated April 12 at HTCC – Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell. I think it’ll be great. I want to get some traditional Indian clothes but don’t know where to get them. Maybe I’ll look on the internet or something. I want to wear Indian clothes because it’ll help me to blend in better at the temple and not look so much like an outsider. Of course, most of the participants will be Gujarati anyway so they won’t speak English, but that’s okay. Jainism is a religion that respects different views and practices non-violence in thoughts, actions and words so I should feel welcome there despite the fact I won’t understand most of them.

8. This is probably just a coincidence but I’ll mention it anyway. When I was a kid I was also a good speller. I once entered a spelling bee and won locally but couldn’t advance to regional because I had no money for a bus ride to it. Also, in those days, since people made fun of the words I used, I learned how to dumb down my intelligence so I’d fit in with the sitcom loving world. Consequently, I did get as dumb as a box of bricks. When I played computer Scrabble I played at an advanced level but never master or genius level. Recently, though, I have been playing at genius level and have won three times. To me it’s quite an accomplishment because, in every single game, Scrabble plays words I’ve never seen in my life. These words are so obscure they don’t even look like words. That’s a great disadvantage to me so it’s surprising I still won. Maybe I was just lucky. I hope to get good enough, though, to be able to challenge those players in the Seattle Scrabble club. I figure it should take me 6 months or so.