Friday, March 25, 2016

Über for Cat Sitting

Most of my Sangha has been gone for the week, attending a retreat at Rochester Zen Center, which means there have only been informal sittings here in the morning.

So this morning after coffee, I thought I'd check out the new Cat Cafe that recently opened:

The hours are a little odd, but perhaps I'll have chance to visit later...

I'm a little ambivalent about the Cat Cafe for a number of reasons: a) I wonder where the cats are from, b) I wonder where the cats are kept for the hours the cafe is closed, whether they'll get premium cat food and what will happen to cats if they get sick given veterinarian fees these days, c) I wonder what will happen to the cats if the start-up is one of the overwhelming majority that don't quite make it off the ground, and, finally, d) it won't be the same as if they were my cats or a friend's cats. A part of me thinks of the Cafe, as my mother might have said, as Tierquälerei on a small scale, since it seems somewhat like a petting zoo for grown ups.

On the plus side, the Cat Cafe might prevent local university students from getting their own cats and then abandoning them once they graduate, though it could have the opposite effect and encourage more cat ownership as well. For the adults that pay the entry fee, it might provide a few minutes of relaxation and calm in the hectic world we have today, though I'm not sure whether the effect will be more or less effective on customer's health compared to meditation and mindfulness. According to WebMD research has shown the benefits of pets on health, though obviously the circumstances of a cafe versus a home are different.

Getting back to sitting, I've been wondering if any members of my in real life Sangha read my last post and took offense -- a possibility that might be suggested by the content of the Dharma Talk that followed. The content suggested that Zen practice isn't meant to be a social practice. For a Zen Center without live-in, work-together sangha, I actually think the sangha does pretty well. In fact, things are much better than they used be, since the addition of monthly breakfasts and movie nights. There still isn't a book club like was suggested several years ago, but I don't think a small group needs to try to sustain a greater strain on their other obligations and responsibilities. Plus, I can find plenty of suggestions for reading online. 

My last post was a comment on the fact that I can't afford to stay retired and nor do I want to. I envisioned retirement as temporary -- with the economy going the way it is I can't afford volunteer work for an extended time since that won't help with actual retirement (in 14 or 15 years or so). My last post also was a recognition of my own failings in not investing a lot of time locally since I was hoping to find a research area more in keeping with my interests and to relocate.

I do wish I felt more encouragement for conversation over Sangha concerns when they arise. On the other hand, for this Zen Sangha, most all communication on serious issues is indirect. Unfortunately, I think that has been true especially for me due my choice many years ago to study the Shobogenzo.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Summer Office

This morning I decided to visit the Twitter web application settings page -- something I don't do very often since I don't have wireless. I wanted to adjust the new timeline settings and to shut down the automatic play of videos. I was also pleased to find a setting for sensitive images -- much like what I requested in my prior post. Thanks to Twitter. 

I'm grateful, though, as most people realize, not seeing a problem doesn't make it go away. And not seeing a problem isn't the same as resolving underlying conditions that create it: namely, societies that don't pay a living wage and that don't question the ethics of treating people as commodities and property. Those underlying conditions are a source of numerous difficulties throughout the world today.


In other news the lakes have thawed and my summer office is open suggesting a window for writing is approaching.

I've thought a lot on the subject of writing in the interim and realized that, although I don't mind thinking of blogging as a contribution, I do mind feeling as though none of my efforts are meaningfully directed towards improving conditions in the world. As such my blogging not only feels like a waste of time, it feels counterproductive. Speaking for myself, writing has typically been a byproduct of a different role or purpose. Writing for the sake of writing seems to require an energy that dies out when I'm as isolated as I am -- and will continue to be until I've figured out where I'm going and made a start.

So it goes.

In the meantime, try 'Get Along with your Co-workers' gum while you can: