Death and Alleviation of Suffering

A Buddhist belief and life’s reality

A letter to a bereaved friend heartbroken from the loss of a pet –

“Yes, end-of-life decisions can be heartbreaking. Yet there is courage in making the choice. You freed your pet from prolonged suffering.

“There are those who say, “Suffering is one of life’s noble truths.” I think otherwise, that alleviating suffering is a noble act, and fatalistic acceptance of suffering is inaction. This is why hunters (animals and humans) often end the lives of prey immediately.

“When Lucy, the feral cat mom who adopted my home, fell ill a few years ago, my daughter and I took her to the vet…and she nursed Lucy back to health day by day. Lucy lived two more years, and then fell very ill. Her blood sugar was off the charts, and her kidneys weren’t functioning. She was very weak, and could only stumble a few steps before falling.

After the first time, I had ensured Lucy had insurance coverage, but hadn’t taken her for checks every six months or so…as I should have. Despite a controlled diet, her blood sugar had risen likely because of a complete lack of exercise – play, being chased around – and I hadn’t done that either.

Could I blame myself for her eventual illness? Perhaps…the vet advised euthanasia after keeping Lucy overnight, and that was the most difficult decision for my daughter. I kept my composure at the hospital, but bawled when alone at home. 


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A Dilbut Sunrise

Gilbert, Arizon / Sunrise Jan 08, '22
Dilbut, Wariduna / Sunrise Jan 08, ’22

Dilbut is my city in the fictional state of Wariduna. Read more about the town’s American distinction in ‘Humbling and Humility.’ Emblematic of all America, really: naturally beautiful and all too human.

Yes, a sunset over rooftops in my neighborhood πŸ˜‰ A fleeting moment of beauty all the more valuable when shared.

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Human kindness – for a biker

100th Anniversary V-Rod

My trusty silver steed began coughing and cutting out on my way back from south Gilbert yesterday… I turned east at Lindsay and Elliott roads, and was able to stop at a bus stop in the bike lane.

The evening traffic made that a very noisy (and rather dangerous) location. I asked the insurance guy on the phone if I should attempt to roll over across the road to a nearby parking lot, but he repeatedly cautioned me against it. Sat down in the bus stop instead and awaited the tow truck.

One after another, four vehicles stopped and inquired if I was okay – two trucks, two SUVs, while some looked and nodded as I waved them on. One truck owner stopped, braved the honks from busy traffic behind him, and insisted on pushing me up on to the sidewalk… “There, now you’re off the road!” said he. “Just yesterday, I saw a bad smash-up of a motorcycle nearby…” Shook his hand and thanked him.

Reminded me of inherent human kindness. But was it my situation, or was it my steed that made them stop? I know that whenever I’m out, she gets all the compliments… πŸ˜‰

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A Fall Gift

Download a slice of an immigrant father’s life, ‘Humbling and Humility,’ FREE this first Fall weekend of 2021 at Sept. 24 through the 26th.

Two decades of America’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan

The Lexington Herald cartoon says it with sardonic simplicity. What it leaves out – deaths over 20 years, most of them innocent, trillions spent – hardly needs mentioning. Or remembering.

Simply put, it was an abject failure. But so too, it’d seem, is the American experiment in democracy.

And the American Dream – which is what my story touches upon!

Happy Fall reading.


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A Beginning and An End

A photojournalist’s picture of one of the NY twin towers after a plane hit

Why is it that we, almost always, remember only that which agonized us?

This, a picture of a man falling – almost serenely – from one of the doomed twin towers in New York, was prohibited from media publication in the days that followed the attack on America on September 11, 2001. A man who presumably chose instant death, after a brief flight of open-air and breezy freedom, over demise by rapid immolation in the fires that raged near the top of the tower. Fires that prevented his escape from a certain unknown and unheralded end. He chose to be seen! He had no way of knowing that he would be seen, of course. Nor did he care that his picture was taken.

It was a beginning for a reaction from America that would involve two declared wars, hundreds of thousands of – mostly innocent – deaths, millions scarred forever, and trillions of taxpayer dollars siphoned, wasted, and recycled to rich corporations… over two decades. Evil on an unimaginable scale, in other words. What of all this agony?

Every year, we hold memorial ceremonies for those lost on 9/11. It’s always tearful, soulful, and in so many ways fulfilling to the American psyche. Yet it makes me want to scream: what of the hundreds of thousands murdered in the name of vengeance, of “fighting terror with terror?” Who remembers those innocents with anything approaching this feeling, this pomp and ceremony? I have asked – and received no answer from the administration. Why should they care?

Yes… we are a society that loves its junk food. For the body, and for the soul.

If this is leadership through democracy in your mind, forgive me: it reflects brutal hegemony to me, the very evil that so-called “terrorists” and “subversives” give their lives fighting to defeat. “Oh,” you say, “democracies are flawed, and always make mistakes! We must LEARN from them!” Pray tell: what are we to learn from 20 years of our “mistakes?”

An Afghan falling from a US plane taking off from Kabul

Two decades later, in an unceremonious departure from Afghanistan, forced by an almost bloodless and breathtakingly rapid takeover by the same fundamentalist regime that we’d replaced there with our invasion of that nation, we leave to an eerily similar scene repeating.

Another man falling. From a large plane.

This time it’s a young Afghan, one among many that fell from that plane to which they clung as it took off… a desperate gesture that almost seemed to say “do not leave us here after promising us freedom.” And no, this wasn’t the only tragedy: in retaliation for a terrorist attack on the airfield, Americans shot a missile from a drone at an aid worker carrying water to his vehicle in a can killing him and many children of a family. There are also reports of American soldiers firing into crowds in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack that killed 13 of our own. America going berserk, again. Innocents dead and murdered again. But we did not mean to do it.

An ignoble end to a two decades-long occupation of a far-east nation.

The ultimate result of our occupation of Afghanistan? The terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, that once lived as rats do in burrows within that nation’s mountains, is now an integral part of the government of the nation. Sirajuddin Haqqani, of the Haqqani militant network designated by the UN as a terrorist organization, is their newly-minted interior minister.

Yay for democracy! Yay for America!

Do we ever ask: “What, in our own actions, originated such hatred and desperation? What part did we play?”

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The Great Mask Debate

One and a half years. 18 months.

That’s how long I’ve battled, using free speech, in this flawed democracy that is America. All to convince my neighbors and the people at large to adhere to public health measures for their benefit and that of the community.

What is this Great Battle, you say? Masks. Well-fitted, multi-layered, face-coverings that both minimize intake of ‘aerosolized’ droplets afloat in the air and expulsions of the same. And getting everyone to wear them when in public places or congregations. The battle fares poorly – hence this blog. Nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to convince an obdurate populace that this is indeed the right thing to do in a pandemic.

I did not always fight this battle alone; like-minded others often joined with me in neighborhood discussions. But the mob, dead set against such “infringement of their freedoms,” silenced me: they ganged up in neighborhood discussion threads to accuse my messages of being “divisive” and thus succeeded in deleting them – democratically. I withdrew. A laser is hardly the tool to carve stone.

After one such skirmish, a note I penned to one of my compatriots:

John Stuart Mill had some interesting observations on such social dynamics, James… paraphrasing one of his astute sayings, information, and rational arguments, can often be resisted by folks who base their convictions upon emotions and feelings…such folks tend to get more aggressive as their positions begin to weaken, for their sense of security is threatened.

People react in general out of ignorance, discomfort, and fear – of the other, of change, of the unknown. I know this and try to minimize their discomfort while shedding light on something or the other…but, sadly, that has not been the “American Way” for far too long.

I am as responsible as they are in this strange censorship, for I’ve committed the greatest of all crimes: Thought Crime! πŸ˜‰ I’ve endeavored to show that their thoughts, nay, even their innermost convictions, may be suspect. Hence the attack with religion by one of the participants: “Jesus confronted the likes of you!” I was tempted to point out Mathew 5:28 to him, about Thought Crime, but better impulses prevailed.

In general, though, JSM argued that “…free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress. We can never be sure, he contends, that a silenced opinion does not contain some element of the truth. He also argues that allowing people to air false opinions is productive…” – Wikipedia

What can we do, but say what we think will help, do what we can to help? That is what another good book advocates: action alone is our purview, not its results (in brief). Relevant to the present, I think it is very important to help enlighten everyone about the dangers of throwing caution to the winds in this pandemic.

This failed effort, at bridging ignorance and stark differences in opinion, has me wondering: where has all the lofty thought and brave sacrifice that went into the American Revolution gone? Was that unity driven by truth and principle, or was it just a cover for the pecuniary and administrative gains to be made by the few who manipulated the many?

The evidence – if one looks at the Civil Rights struggles that continue – strongly suggests the materialistic reason.

The only mask worn with glee covers the ugly racial truth.


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National Weed Out Hate Day

Must we live in an Orwellian world?

This Saturday, the 28th of August, is National Weed Out Hate Day, also celebrated as Speak Kind Words Saturday

All weekend, get a FREE copy of ‘Humbling and Humility,’ for the Kindle, my first work of nonfiction that attempts to “bridge genders and cultures” as I call it. I guarantee that you’ll find an immigrant father’s trials and resilience enlightening.

Enjoy the journey within!


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Covid-19 Saved Me

What’s worth more to you, the environment or your money?

A funny thought occurred to me yesterday and thought to share it. Amuse yourselves (if you have a few minutes)…

Covid-19 saved me. “How!?”, you ask.

Just before the pandemic hit us all full-force, I’d fallen and hurt myself (am too young for that sort of thing) in the middle of the night. Woke face-down on the carpet, in fact. A strange feeling of all my organs in utter disorder accompanied that rude awakening… calmed the mind (funny how that works!) and slowly tested out all my faculties. Everything was in place, in good working order, and I did get back to sleep again. As is habitual, ignored this strange mishap, though I did take pictures of the gash on my forehead to investigate. Just in case aliens were responsible.

My teen – when he heard about it – insisted that I get checked up. The doc, about my tender age, advised an ECG and declared everything was wrong about my heart rhythm. He said the next time this happens, go directly to the ER.

But he did little to explain what could be done to correct the dangerous malady he perceived…and prescribed me a pill for BP reduction. A pill that’d enhance the expression of ACE-2 on my cells, and cause similar symptoms to Covid-19. Won’t go into the gory medical details here…

So – I took his pills… for a month. And experienced the dry hacking cough he warned me of, and dizziness when getting up from artificially lowered blood pressure.

And read up voraciously on everything in the Renin Angiotensin System of the human body. The pills became all the more undesirable: they increased my susceptibility to Covid-19 by increasing ACE2 expression; that is the very pathway for the dreaded virus into our cells. My reading also uncovered that Moringa Oleifera, the common Drumstick tree leaves and fruit, is of great help with what ailed me.

Thus started my journey into the world of natural medicine and all sorts of herbs and roots.

I read up on Ayurvedic principles, and everything researchers in Traditional Chinese Medicine practiced, with their concoctions, to help their Covid patients. And began collecting such supplements, extracts, and teas. Reducing the the dosage of the pills prescribed by the doc, I ramped up my Moringa Oleifera and supplement intake, became a herbal tea practitioner, and transitioned over into Natural Healing entirely.

A year later, I am astounded by the results!

Lost weight, mostly the excess water retention in the body, and some blubber, so much so that a student’s father, a doctor himself, repeatedly asked if everything was okay, for he saw someone much slimmer! NO Hypertension whatsoever.

Everything these days is better: sleep, my sense of taste, smell, and cognitive abilities, and not surprisingly, an optimistic outlook on life despite the isolation of the pandemic. So… Covid took me on a journey into nature, one that brought out the young human from within. The learning, a renewed capacity and eagerness to do so, the sense of well-being… I owe it all largely to Covid πŸ˜‰ Shouldn’t I be grateful, despite the global tragedy?

There! Now, am I crazy? Feel totally free to comment/share your thoughts…


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Immigrants to America

The Indigenous and Descendants of Immigrants in America

A quiet summer day at the local Public Library’s second-hand book shop, ‘The FriendsPlace.’ I volunteered there as a cashier, their only Asian-American volunteer. Profits generated from this annex to the library went largely to scholarships for high school kids of all races who volunteered there as well.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a burly Hispanic gentleman looking at some DVD’s in the second room of this book shop. Keeping an eye on customers and helping them make up their minds also fell to the cashier at the front of the shop. This customer seemed bothered about the price of the DVD’s: $1 each, for they were used discs from the library. Some minutes later, he approached the cash register.

“Here are 6 DVD’s,” he said, brusquely. “Don’t know how many are good.” Can I pay $3 for them?

“Here, let me take a look! We’ll be able to tell if any of them are scratched or bad,” said I.

Upon inspection, none of the DVD’s appeared to be scratched or otherwise damaged. “Why not pick three you really like for $3? They are $1 each…”

“I only have $3 with me, and I’d like them all,” said he.

“I don’t think I can do that,” I replied.

“Who’s your manager? I want to speak to the manager,” said he. “The manager cannot change prices at your demand,” said I, but he appeared to become incensed. I went into the inner room and brought out Donna, the team leader for our volunteer shift. Howard and Tina had also listened to this conversation and appeared somewhat nonplussed. I made sure Donna knew what the customer was demanding before she addressed him. That too seemed to rile him up.

“I was asking your cashier to give me these DVD’s – they look bad – for $3, and he’s refusing,” said the customer.

“But they’re $1 each,” said Donna.

“And we cannot give arbitrary discounts to select customers,” said I.

“WHO ARE YOU? Who are you to say what can and cannot be done? I WAS BORN HERE! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” He’d evidently lost his thin veneer of civilized conduct.

“I am an immigrant from India,” I retorted. “What difference does that make?”

“Rian, please, I need you away from here!” said Donna. The situation was unraveling, and I’d stood up to my full height, towering above them both. I glared at the bellicose customer, while Donna told him that he could have the DVD’s for the price he demanded.

“I’ll bring the money,” said he, and began to leave.

“Don’t come back,” said I – but moved into the inner room to update Howard and Tina on what transpired.

After the customer returned, I helped Donna enter the transaction into the register. “He was definitely a racist, Rian, I just wanted him out of the shop!” said Donna. Tina agreed with her. I smiled. “In all my years, I’ve always stood by my team,” said Howard. He was an elderly and very well-traveled gentleman, a retired librarian. Clearly, he did not approve of the humble pie a team member had to swallow.

Needless to say, following my son’s reaction to this incident, when I related it to him, I excused myself from volunteering at the unfriendly ‘FriendsPlace’ soon.


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Fathers Day

Swan father carrying cygnets on his back

Download ‘Humbling and Humility,’ an immigrant father’s saga, FREE this upcoming Fathers Day weekend.

May an understanding of this father’s actions and suffering be a helpful guide to others.


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