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Tue Feb 14, 2012, 06:25 PM

An absolutely true Valentine's Day story of Merit Making

In Thailand we usually celebrate holidays and birthdays by going to the temple or to an orphanage and 'making merit' by either feeding the monks or feeding the kids.

Currently in El Centro and with my dog in his last months due to cancer my wife has agreed to give up our apartment and we are living together in primitive conditions.

We are waiting for last month's commissions to be deposited in our account and it is now 15 days late and we are on fumes.

So don't have a lot planned for Valentine's Day and our last few bucks until we get paid.

So we take the Golden Retriever to El Centro's main park where we go once a day to let him run while I do my walk and we feed the ducks, geese and pigeons.

They have one large pond and a smaller pond that is slightly elevated that has a little fountain in it. By running the fountain they get a flow of water that helps keep it clean.

As we walk past the smaller pool we see 4 pieces of gold flashing in the water.

We discover 4 carp and one catfish swimming in only about two inches of water.

They are under attack by seagulls who have already picked apart 3 other fish.

The fish are swimming on their sides trying to move and avoid the seagulls that are starting to gang up on the last 5 fish.

The fish have only minutes left.

I get the plastic bag that had the bread for the ducks and geese and walk through the mud and reach the water, miracuously without falling into the mud.

The seagulls retreat and the fish actually swim into this plastic bag. My wife picks up two by hand. I know this sounds strange but it actually appears that the fish understand we are there to help (maybe because they get fed food in a park pond they are not afraid of people).

We carry the 5 fish to the larger pond and release them.

And this was really the best way for us to spend our Valentines Day together, finding a small little way to make merit together.

No commercialism, no cheesy cards, just my wife and I wading into the mud and celebrating the miracle of life with some fellow earth travellers watched by our dog, Champ, who loves the whole adventure.

And that is the end of the story, every word of it true.

But there is a post script. It is unrelated (in my Western objective thinking) or completely related (in my wife's hightened Thai Karmic perception) depending on your point of view to the following.

We cleaned off the mud and got back to our room.

On my email is a note from a large union that has agreed to accept a proposal we have been sending back and forth for three years. The local board has sent it to the membership for election. If it goes through it could generate what would normally be about 6 months worth of income, and it would significantly reduce the cost of some benefits for that union. As I told you it is completely unrelated to the story above and in no way am I suggesting that little acts of merit making ever have any direct impact on the mundane profane world. Just don't try and convince my wife of that.

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Reply An absolutely true Valentine's Day story of Merit Making (Original post)
grantcart Feb 2012 OP
marasinghe Feb 2012 #1
Ruby the Liberal Feb 2012 #2
YankeyMCC Feb 2012 #3
Newest Reality Feb 2012 #4
grantcart Feb 2012 #5
marasinghe Feb 2012 #6

Response to grantcart (Original post)

Tue Feb 14, 2012, 09:21 PM

1. hey GC, that's a sweet story.

possibly since i'm of Asian origin,
i think there's some truth at least,
to your wife's take on the matter.
i feel that the results of Karma
tend to speed up,
when one meditates regularly.
or, maybe, Time seems to pass by faster?

as we say in Brooklyn,
youse done real good.
your fish tale made my day.

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Response to grantcart (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:48 AM

2. Excellent story.

Thanks for sharing that! I do believe it was connected. It all is.

Congrats on the proposal.

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Response to grantcart (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 12:28 PM

3. Now that is a day spent well IMHO!

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Response to grantcart (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 12:36 PM

4. Your compassion and

depth of experience are acknowledged with relish.

While it is understood that you are not implying that the merit necessarily created the following benefits, dependent arising is worth noting in the sense of Jung's synchronicity where, rather than being called mere coincidence, the patterns are seen to be more obvious.

While accumulating merit is useful to our discovery and realization, we eventually give it away freely, anyway. In that sense, your story spreads the merit by way of the telling, for the rest of us and that is auspicious.

Thank you for sharing your inspirational story and may you be free from all suffering.

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 10:31 PM

5. making merit is widely misunderstood

You do not make merit for yourself. When you go to feed the monks you are making merit in the memory of someone you want the merit to pass to.

and there is. of course, a direct line between the two events, ala Jung synchronicity.

It is like the primitive man looking at the pattern of the stars and noticing the begining of the new season and then assuming the stars cause the change of the seasons rather than seeing that they are related because they are separate results from the independent causation of the earth rotating around the sun.

In this case letting go of a personal point of view and living in the moment I saw the fish that no one else saw and the only clear action that would save the fish. I was liberated from seeking approbation or worried about the hilarity of a face plant into the mud (the most likely outcome of a fat guy walking on a slippery surface) and was freed to look at the fish.

I go into a lot of federal buildings in order to sell supplemental benefits to federal employees. There are a couple of hundred of us across the country that do this kind of work on a daily basis. Several years ago being in the moment allowed me to notice and talk to the private guards that stop and check people in and out of the buildings. They are largely invisible to most people.

I was the only one at the park that saw the fish and then only one not worried about public opinion to take action.

I was the only one that goes in and out of federal buildings that noticed the 'lowly guards'. Turns out that the government has increased their role in detention facillities and there are thousands of them, and we have better benefit options than they currently do.

Somehow I got the fish to trust me and swim towards me (the swarming birds that were picking on them helped provide an immediate incentive) and listening and talking to the local unions for the guards and treating them with the same respect as the people inside the building gave us a big advantage.

So they were different legs of the same 'living in the moment' and only the fact that they came to fruition on the same day was a coincidence.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 11:05 PM

6. well GC, what i say is ....

contrary to Goldfinger's (007's nemesis) take on the matter, there's no such thing as coincidence.
there are only myriads of delicate links, so minute, tenuous & subtle, that we are incapable of seeing their existence.

but, all that is irrelevant.

what happened was:
you saw something that was the right thing to do.
and you did it; with no consideration beyond the correctness of your action.

and that's all there is to it; and that is how it should be.

or so i think.

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