raft up

If you need your faith in humanity restored, turn on the live footage of the rescue efforts going on in Houston right now. 

The vast majority of boats, rafts, and other water vehicles being used to rescue people from their flooded homes are being captained by ordinary citizens -mostly young men between the ages of 20-40 - who owned fishing boats, kayaks, and rafts and just showed up to start helping people. 

And on top of that - the attitude they have about using their time and personal property to save people’s lives isn’t about frustration and/or anger with the government and other first responders for not having enough resources. They’ve done nothing but praise the first responders that they are working alongside - and rightfully so as many of them have been on duty and working hard for over 24 hours. 

The only sentiments I’ve seen these people share are sheer confusion at the number of times journalists have asked them why they are there and completely sincere answers stating that they are there to help their fellow neighbors and citizens because they are part of a community and it is their duty and responsibility to make sure people are safe and cared for. 

I turned on the live stream yesterday because my parents live in Houston and I was worried about them (they are doing fine btw - minuscule flooding compared to the worst of it). I had only planned to watch for a little while but when I saw the level of compassion going on there, I just couldn’t turn away. I watched it all day and went to bed feeling good about people for the first time in a long time.

Stay classy, Houston. We’re rooting for you.  

Mystic Messenger Poolside

I lied I enjoy these because they are short. I dunno just the RFA at the pool . I’m making this up as i go along. I am desperate for warmer weather and long pool days where you can just relax, read a book, and try not to get eaten by bugs. Maybe I will do more of these this was relatively painless to write and these are cute little scenarios. I can see the appeal now.


  • he is the typical college male
  • a normal body, not well toned but not chubby either guy is probably self-conscious
  • he has to take out his bobby pins to go into the pool
  • has goofy patterned swim trunks with animals on them, or LOLOL themed
  • immediately jumps into the pool with no hesitation trying to make the biggest splash possible
  • if MC is laying out he splashes her for laughs
  • MC pulls him around in the water as he floats
  • MC and Yoosung attempt to climb into the same raft ending in someone being thrown off the side into the deep end
  • probably hold competitions on who can hold their breath the longest
  • hes not bad at diving off the diving board but he still manages to splash everywhere


  • the pool god himself
  • the best part is watching him peel off his shirt and reveal those chiseled abs and perfect body, and he loves knowing that probably everyone is watching him
  • he could pull off the Speedo if he really wanted to, however that for private time only, he sticks to board shorts like every other guy at the pool
  • if you ask nicely for him to be your pool boy he will gladly put on the Speedo if you wanted
  • probably uses the oil “lotion” by the pool because his body glistens in the sun
  • when you both are in the water he enjoys poking your sides and letting you float in his arms
  • but if Jumin challenges him to a duel via chicken fight you best bet you are getting on his shoulders and are going to win. there is no way he would ever forgive himself if he lost to Jumin
  • as beautiful and talented as this man is, he is a horrible diver off the diving board. He is a fumbling flopping figure dropping into the water. 
  • he enjoys a few pool beers in a raft
  • will casually swim laps as part of his workout routine when it is warmer out
  • always reassures you that you are beautiful even when you feel self-conscious. 
  • its also easier for him to just pull the string to your bikini bottoms to have you completely naked.


  • the one piece bikini, or tank-ini wearer 
  • MC would have to steal all her one pieces to get her to wear a two piece 
  • probably wears a huge hat by the pool
  • would rather read a book in a float than actually swim
  • will probably lose her mind if someone tried to flip her
  • hugs MC from behind in the water
  • always gets out every 2 hours to apply SPF 60 and makes sure that MC uses it to
  • MC helps Jaehee apply those hard to reach places and she returns the favor
  • the most competent and graceful diver into the pool
  • when she is alone she likes to put on her swim cap and swim a few laps when she has time


  • the one who has to put on a crap ton of sunscreen just to sit outside because redheads burn easily in the sun
  • similar to Yoosung will immediately throw himself into the water
  • his goal is to get MC wet 
  • if MC is in a float you can bet she is 100% going to get flipped
  • tries to perfect his cannon ball and measures its effectiveness by MC screaming at him for getting her wet
  • will drag MC into the pool even if she is holding onto the gate for dear life will throw her over his shoulder and drag her into the pool
  • just don’t expect to stay dry
  • when you try to get back at him by holding hands and jumping into the pool you both count to three and neither of you jump. You both laugh and attempt it again counting to three. Neither of you jump. the third time you tell yourself you are going to just push him in. You both count to three holding each others hands, and neither of you jump. You immediately charger after him and he doges your moves and your momentum takes you straight into the pool. 
  • he fell laughing so hard at MC
  • will play little games with MC in the pool
  • MC carries him around the pool when he is more calm


  • hes perfect too
  • SPF 60 does not want to burn in the sun and he brings out a hat to protect his face
  • helps MC apply her sunscreen and allows MC to run her hands up and down his chest and back. Not that MC is complaining
  • he spends a decent amount of time in and out of the pool and under the umbrella
  • MC catches him staring at her a lot while she is sitting on the edge of the pool
  • has a waterproof watch on that he wears around water
  • has a tumbler for wine on the go 
  • buys the best outdoor furniture, rafts, and luxuries for the pool
  • loves to hold MC in his arms and run his hands over her body
  • buys her nice bikinis he thinks will flatter her
  • she rarely wears the scantly clad ones around others but saves those for when her and Jumin are in one of those days where they cant keep their hands off of each other


  • hesitant to get into the water because his vision is failing him
  • it was too hot outside for him to stay indoors waiting around until his surgery date came around
  • MC held his hand as they walked into the pool from the steps
  • both let out a sigh in relief from the hot summer sun
  • MC let V feel his way around the pool and teasing him slightly by splashing him with water
  • hot dad #2 
  • this man was perfect 
  • when V was nodding off in a pool float MC grabbed his camera and snapped a few shots of him in the pool and his blue hair
  • V sound asleep started rolling off of the raft and woke himself up abruptly with cold water
  • V likes to pull MC close to his chest kissing the top of her head as his fingers trail up her back
  • V may or may not have purposely pulled her bikini top strings
  • he was lucky that he was partially blind he couldn’t see


  • Hates the pool
  • will sit under an umbrella with his headphones in listening to his music or reading something
  • when MC comes out in her bikini hes more willing to get into the water if shes going in
  • she makes sure he keeps applying sunscreen so he doesn’t burn to a crisp
  • if his brother visits at the pool they more than likely will get into a wrestling match trying to throw one another into the pool and eventually they both will fall in.
  • probably splash each other to the death
  • he enjoys eating his ice cream and watching MC float around in the pool
  • when he does decide to get in he likes to give MC a ride on his back carrying her around the pool area 
He Saves You

“Alright y/n,” Louis tipped the beer and pointed at her.

Y/N shifted in the pool as she laid on the raft. She was careful not to tip over, she couldn’t swim. The raft sunk a little and then popped up.

“What, you know if you get caught in the pool with that they’ll yell at you,” she warned.

“Shush child, that life guard is mostly interested at girls then what I drink,” Louis stated, “oi! Niall!”

Niall jumped in swimming over and holding on to the edge where Louis was setting his beer down, “hey man, hey y/n,” Niall winked at her.

Y/N opened her magazine once again, “what brings you to the eleven feet side,” Niall teased swimming over and grabbing her magazine.

“The suns over here,” Y/N grabbed it once more from his hands, “and I was hopping to stay warm.”

She flipped it over and Niall pouted, “give me some attention well you?”

“No,” Y/N laughed, she flipped a page and kept reading, “I tend to find Bruce Jenner more interesting.”

“Mate will you come get a beer with me?” Louis called lifting himself up and out of the water.

Niall patted her raft and turned following Louis. Y/N panicked turning, “you can’t leave me here!” She said sitting and the ends of the raft popped up.

“Just stay still. Lay down again,” Niall called, “relax. It’s just five minutes.”

Y/N struggled hitting the sides of the pink raft and she shrieked as she felt herself flip over. She slide down and she started flapping her arms widely. She kicked and kicked until she felt a pair of strong arms around her waist pulling her up. Y/N wrapped her arms around the hero and started coughing widely.

“Hey. Hey shhh it’s okay I’ve got you,” The deep voice assured as he took her to the two feet and then sat her down.

Y/N clutched her chest as she coughed, “it’s alright,” he patted her back.

Y/N looked up meeting his green eyes, “you okay? I’m Harry,” he said, “the lifeguard.”

His hair was wet and matted against his face, he ran his hands through it pushing it back, “thank you,” y/n coughed out, “I’m y/n.”

“Holy shit y/n,” Louis set down his drink, “we told you to sit still. Uh shit. Don’t tell mum and dad. They’ll kill me.”

Y/N rolled her eyes and Harry helped her up, “I think-I’m just going to-I’m going up to my room.”

“Come on, I’ll help you, my shifts over,” Harry smiled.

Y/N blushed as he handed her a towel, “thanks.”

“No problem, it’s my honor,” he gave her a small smile and slipped on his life guard jacket waving to the girl who was now in his seat.

“My head hurts. Is that normal?” She asked him.

Harry nodded at her and they set out walking, “I know this is pushing it. But maybe we could go for dinner.”

“Well you did just save my life,” y/n laughed nudging him, “I would like that Harry.”

anonymous asked:

Got any sweet fluffy headcanons about the lovebirds that are robin and starfire?


  • They are constantly trying out new things.  One of main defining factors of their relationship is how much Robin enjoys showing her things about Earth and how wondrous she finds everything, so whenever he finds something that he thinks might be cool or Starfire expresses an interest in something they both jump right on it.
  • They’ve had some killer dates this way.
  • One time they went white-water rafting.  They both wound up soaked and Starfire laughed so hard she couldn’t breathe.
  • Starfire sometimes forgets to turn off her language absorption when she’s kissing Robin and so she’s accidentally gotten snatches of all the languages he knows here and there.
  • She’ll surprise him by whispering a foreign endearment in his ear.
  • Speaking of languages though, Robin thinks Starfire speaking Tamaranian is ridiculously sexy.
  • Also attractive: when she punts villains through walls.  He has been known to get a little distracted and dreamy-eyed during fights on rare occasions.
  • ‘course he’s always subtly keeping his eye on her and making sure she’s okay anyway.
  • She’s also been known to “hover” around him.
  • Everyone on the Titans ships it.  Everyone.
  • There was in fact a betting pool going around about just when they would finally get together.  Cyborg was the broker.  He made bank when they finally kissed in Tokyo.
  • Speedy and Aqualad are both still sore about it because they thought Robin would never man up enough to ask her out.
  • Starfire gets irrationally upset whenever she sees sordid tabloid headlines about him.
  • “But Robin, they are besmirching your honor with their vile and untrue words!”
  • It’s flattering but he wishes she wouldn’t hover outside the publishing houses demanding the authors step forth to fight her in a dual.
  • Robin, likewise, hates when people badmouth Starfire.
  • He punched a kid in the face because he heard him call her a slut under his breath.
  • Got sued, settled out of court.  Bruce called up, annoyed and asking for an explanation and all Robin said was, “Worth it.”
  • Robin makes sure to buy her favorite juice whenever they’re doing grocery shopping, because she commented once that a certain flavor blend reminded her of Tamaran.
  • After “Haunted” she waits up for him whenever he’s out on patrol, and doesn’t go to bed until he returns.
  • She often goes to Raven for advice about him.
  • “Oh my Azar, Starfire, just because I was in his head once doesn’t mean I can make him be less of a dunderhead.”
  • “Just go hug him.  He loves that.”
  • (He does.)
  • They held hands constantly right after Tokyo.
  • Robin loves to pepper her with kisses.  She giggles very cutely.
  • Starfire starts learning more Earth recipes for him.
  • She’s terrible at it at first, and often has to call Cyborg, weeping because the noodles are too soggy and the spices don’t taste right and everything is on fire.  Cyborg always calms her down and helps her out, and never takes credit for it when Starfire presents the results to Robin.
  • Silkie doesn’t take well to Robin at first.
  • Was very protective of his mistress and never wanted them to be alone together without him for a while.
  • Robin won him over with a couple strips of bacon, which Silkie enjoyed surprisingly much, and now the grub purrs happily for him.
  • Starfire will sometimes make him coffee in the morning.
  • They usually sit together for meals.
  • Robin was the first one to fall in love with her.
  • Boys had crushed on her in the past, back on Tamaran, but no one ever seriously pursued any interest in her, preferring her sister.
  • Did not help that Galfore was very protective and also there were strict rules for how people could approach and interact with her.
  • Starfire still loves watching fireworks with him.
Bitter Friendships Part 4

I’m soooooo sorry it took so long. I kept hitting a wall for this chapter! It was so frustrating!
But I did! It’s here!
Part 4! It needs no description! 

(Y/H/C)- Your Hair Colour

Part 1 
Part 2 
Part 3

Hope you enjoy! 

Originally posted by marielgum

“I’ll bargain with you.”
Anti’s spine shivered with those words.
The taste of your lips still warmed his tongue. He relished the flavor. The chills that coursed through him as you remembered. His strength growing as the memories solidified in your mind.
Yes, yes. You will accept him soon. When you remember the times between you, the spark that you felt. He’ll become powerful enough to consume Sean and completely erase his memory from your reality.
There won’t be any more excuses. Anymore barriers. There will just be you and him. 
“Let’s here it then, sugar-lips.” He said, leaning forward. Oh, how he wanted to taste you again. 
You went to speak, but a knock at the front door cut you off. 
Anti hissed angrily and he disappeared in a cloud of smoke, reappearing at the front door. 
He threw it open with a snarl, “What?” 
The man behind it jerked back in surprise. Anti recognized him. He was your neighbor, one of the few that had stopped you on the side-walk to introduce himself. 
Anti hadn’t liked him then, and very surely hated him now. 
“S-Sorry to disturb you,” The man said, straightening. “But I heard some loud noises coming from the house and I wanted to make sure everything was ok.” 
Anti heard you barreling towards the front door. His fists clenched when you wormed your way in front of him, putting yourself between him and the neighbor. 
“Zac, it’s nice to see you,” You greeted the man with a shaky smile. “Sorry if we were being loud. Sean gets angry easily at video games.” 
The man, Zac, looked doubtful as he looked at you, then at Anti. 
Anti has seen this look before. Though humans were ignorant of his existence, they could sense that he was wrong. He didn’t fit into this world. 

“Are you sure nothing…else was going on,” Zac said, deliberately talking to you. Ignoring Anti’s glowering stare. 
“Of course, I promise.” You tried. But Zac didn’t accept it. His eyes turned to Anti, setting off an already burning fuse. 
“I hope for your sake you’re keeping your hands off this woman,” Zac said, his jaw clenched and his stare set.
“For my sake?” Anti challenged with a cackle.
“Anti, wait-”
“It’s not (Y/N) you should be afraid for.” Anti’s hands gripped the man’s shoulders, yanking him into the house. “It’s you that should be terrified!”
You launched yourself at Anti, your hands just finding purchase on his shirt as he and Zac disappeared into smoke. 
You were thrown around like a rag-doll. Weightless amongst the swirling black. 
Suddenly, you felt Anti’s shirt tear from your grip and you fell into an abyss. 
You fell for what felt like ages, the world shifted and jittered around you. As if you were staring through a static TV. 
You mind began to throb. A ringing roared in your ears and you screamed in pain. Invisible claws raked your skin, battering you around the static darkness. 
You felt your consciousness slipping. Your body kept falling but somehow you were floating, staring down as it fell. 
Then, you felt a hand snag your wrist and you were jerked into light. 
You collapsed against a hard chest and arms wrapped around your body. 

Anti held your trembling form. You were cold, icy to touch and your gaze was staring, emotionless. 
He had left you behind in the void. The dimension that allows him to travel between spaces. Anti cursed himself, but his anger fueled whatever compassion that wormed into his mind away. 
“You idiot!” He snarled. “People like you aren’t meant to follow me!” 
Your mind was returning to you. Following the path he had laid out for it, back into your body. 
His words swarm in your head, barely making sense. You tried to speak, but your tongue was too heavy. 
Look what you did you monster! Sean screamed inside his head. She almost ceased to exist in that cursed place of yours! How could she forgive you after that? What do you think she’ll think of you now? 
Anti pushed back the insect in his mind. Gently caressing the (Y/H/C) strands. 
What did he care what you thought of him? He shouldn’t need your approval. 

But that’s the problem isn’t it? A quieter voice whispered. You want their approval. You care. 

Anti’s hands shook. His eyes glowing. 
Since when did he care? Why did he care? 
That pest in his head. His emotions. His memories swamped Anti’s own, mixing with his ambitions of freedom, of destruction. 
You were the center of everything. The reason Anti lived. The reason he even had thoughts! Should he be grateful? But why? You may have given him life, but only through pain, suffering, loneliness. 
Why would anyone be grateful for life through torment?

You stirred in Anti’s arms. Your body felt heavy and your vision blurred. 
“I was confused.” Anti said, his voice low. “When we were young, I didn’t know what I was. What I was feeling. You kept the loneliness away, so I clung to you. Like a drowning man to a life-raft.” You looked up at him, his eyes were bright green. Wisps of smoke trailed from the corners of his eyes. “And when you left, I grew stronger. I was able to think and form my own memories. I pushed Sean aside, fighting for the drivers seat. And just as I finally managed to take control, you come in and destroy everything.” 
You felt the arms around you draw you closer, his hands gripping you painfully tight. 
“I lost control. I was so over-come by Sean’s happiness to see you, that we got mixed.” His lips curled. “I felt his love for you, not my own!” 
Anti shoved you across the room. The strength in his movement sending you crashing against the wall. 
“I thought I was feeling something,” Anti continued, getting to his feet. “I thought you were bringing something else out of me. But you were only drawing Sean back!” 
Before you could move, Anti rushed forward, his hand finding your throat and squeezing. 
“I should never have believed I was anything but this!” Anti cackled. His head jittering and his voice high-pitched. “I now understand that I am only a monster!” 
You tried to speak, but black dots started to form in your eyes and you gasped for breath. You clawed at Anti’s arm, trying to loosen his grip. 

Stop it! Sean screamed. Please! Stop! I’ll do anything! 
“It’s too late now, Seany-boy.” Anti sang. “I want her dead. And nothing you say will change it!” 
I’ll give myself up! Please just let them go!
Anti loosened his grip, enough to allow you to breath. “Oh? What did you say?” 
I’ll give you control. Sean said, his voice defeated. I’ll let you have this body. I won’t fight you, only if you leave (Y/N) be. 
Anti looked at you. He still had you suspended in the air by your neck. Your eyes were wide, your face red and you chest heaved in air. 
“Hmm, it’s a tempting offer, Sean.” Anti almost purred. “But they deceived me, almost had me believin’’ I had feelings.”
Anti, listen to my voice. You know you want this, full control over my body. To throw me away. You can do that. I’ll let you, as long as you leave them!
Anti clicked his tongue, rolling the taste of you through his mouth again. 
That was one thing he enjoyed about all this. 
“Alright then.”  Anti dropped you. You crumpled to your knees, coughing and spluttering. Your throat burned. 
“Anti…” You tried to speak, “Sean…please,” 
Anti crouched in front of you, his eyes excited. “Now, now (Y/N) don’t be upset. Sean has given himself up for you. You don’t want his last memory of you to be that little frown would you?” 
You turned your gaze up to him. Glaring, “No, no you can’t have him.” 
“I’m sorry, (Y/N)” Sean said. He lifted his hand to wipe a stray tear that slipping from your eyes. “I couldn’t let him kill you.” 
“But…what will happen to you?” You asked. More tears rolled down your face, spilling down your cheeks like rivers. 
Sean tried to smile, but his eyes were misty. “I don’t know. Don’t think about it, please. You need to forget about me now.” 
You shook your head, reaching for him. “No!” 
“Too late, (Y/N)!” Anti slapped away your hand. Standing over you with a wide grin. “It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to terrorize some other unfortunate soul.” 
“Anti! Please, let me say goodbye!” You pleaded but Anti was already walking towards the door. 
He turned, taking a photo from the table. “Here! Say goodbye to this!” 
The frame shattered as it hit the floor in front of you. You picked up the picture inside, flinching as Anti slammed the door as he left. 

You stared down at the photo of you and Sean. The last day before you left. Misty eyes but wide smiles. Faces so happy but wrecked with grief. 
You wiped away your tears, touching the man’s face in the photo. 
“I don’t remember this,” You said confused. “Who are you?” 

(Ta-da! The end! Do you feel like killing me over that ending? I quite enjoyed it!) 

Camping Horror

This is a creepy encounter by mjoallie.

This happened to my parents back in the late 80’s. They were in their mid 20s when this all occurred. My parents decided to go camping in Cool, California. When they got there, it was kind of late. My Mom was sitting down on a log while my Dad was unpacking the truck. While sitting down, she heard walking around the campsite, so she went and quietly told my Dad she heard someone walking around. They noped the fuck out of there, just in case.

Keep reading

The Quest for the Lost Treasure (Part 8)

Pairing: Adventurer!Jason Todd x Adventurer!Reader

Word Count: 1577

Summary: In university, you discover that an ancient treasure supposed to have been “found” was actually still lost. Determined to be the one to find it, you set off on a journey to find it, and run into Jason Todd and his adventurer posse. With Jason’s expertise of the land, and your natural talent for adventuring, you two are the perfect mix. Will you find the treasure smoothly? Or will you fail and lose a friendship?

Warnings: foul language, angry monkeys

A/N guys im so sorry for not having posted I’ve been really busy. But I’m back!

Parts: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |

Reader POV

“Y/N wake up!”

I slowly open eyes and blink a few times to see Dick’s face hovering over mine.

“Grayson, can I help you?” I ask groggily.

“It’s time to go. We gotta get out before the villagers wake up.” he whispers.

“Ugh. What time is it?” I rub my eyes and sit up.

“7:00 in the morning.”

“Seven in the–sEVEN IN THE MORNING?” I suddenly fully wake up. I crawl over to the opening of the tent and peek my head out, seeing that it’s still dark outside and go back inside.

“It’s still dark out!” I whisper-exclaim.

“Yeah it is. And?” He asks me. I groan and lay back down.

“I don’t want to get up yet.” I say, resting my hand on my forehead.

“You’re already up, let’s go.” Dick grabs my hand and pulls me up.

“I hate you so much,” I say jokingly.

“I hate you too,” he chuckles.

I quickly pack my belongings and exit my tent, with Dick behind me. He leads me out of the village, about 30 feet away from it. When we arrive to his rendezvous point, Jason, Tim and Damian are already there. I honestly have no clue why, but my heart skips a beat when I see Jason. He glances over at me and gives me a small smirk, causing me to blush.

“Jason. Now that we’re out, where do we go? You’re our leader bud.” Dick says.

“Alright, so according to Tim’s map, the city gates should be about 7 miles out. We’ll take this path that I marked right here. It’s the clearest one,” Jason explains.

“Sounds good.” I say. Jason looks up at me and gives me a small wink along with a flash of his pearly whites and looks down at the map. I furrow my eyebrows and cross my arms.

“So…let’s go before they find us,” Tim says nervously. Jason lightly scoffs and starts walking in the direction of the path he marked on the map. Dick follows with Damian, and then it’s Tim and I.

Silence. Well it’s almost pure silence, with the exception of the crunching of the leaves under our feet. No one says a word as we follow Jason into the depths of the jungle.

Keep reading

Alan Watts on the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold Path

WARNING: Very long.

The first Noble Truth is duhkha, which in a very generalized sense means suffering. You could as easily say it means chronic frustration. Life as lived by most people is duhkha. It is, in other words, an attempt to solve insoluble problems, to draw a square circle, to have light without dark or dark without light. The attempt to solve problems that are basically insoluble, and to work at them through your whole life, is duhkha.

Buddha went on to subdivide this The First Noble Truth into the Three Signs of Being.

The first sign is duhkha itself, frustration.

The second is anitya, impermanence. Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out and get it fixed, presents us with an impossible and insoluble problem, and therefore we experience duhkha, the sense of fundamental pain and frustration that results from trying to make impermanent things permanent.

The third Sign of Being is anatman. The word atman means “self.” Anatman means “nonself.” I have explained elsewhere-in talking about Hinduism-that the idea of the ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word water is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid reality without being it, so too the idea of the ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism. Your ego has absolutely nothing to do with the way you color your eyes, shape your body, or circulate your blood. That is the real you, and it is certainly not your ego, because you do not even know how it is done. So anatman means, first, that the ego is unreal; there isn’t one.

This brings us to the second of the Four Noble Truths, which is called trishna. Trishna is a Sanskrit word and the root of our word thirst. It is usually translated “desire,” but it is better translated as “clinging,” “grabbing,” or to use excellent modern American slang, “a hang-up.”

That is exactly what trishna is: a hang-up. When a mother is so afraid that her children may get into trouble that she protects them excessively, and as a result prevents them from growing, that is trishna. When lovers cling to each other excessively and feel they have to sign documents that they will swear to love each other always, they are in a state of trishna. When you hold on to yourself so tightly that you strangle yourself, that is trishna.

The second Noble Truth leads back to the first: clinging is what makes for suffering. When you fail to recognize that this whole world is a phantasmagoria, an amazing illusion, a weaving of smoke, and you try to hold on to it, then you will suffer seriously. Trishna is itself based on avidya. Avidya is ignorance, and it means to ignore or overlook. We notice only what we think noteworthy, and so we ignore all kinds of things. Our vision of reality is highly selective; we pick out a few things and say that they are the universe. In the same way, we select and notice the figure rather than the background. Ordinarily, for instance, when I draw a circle on the blackboard, people see a ball, a circle, or a ring. But I have drawn a wall with a hole in it. You see? Similarly, we think we can have pleasure without pain. We want pleasure, the figure, and do not realize that pain is the background. Avidya is this state of restricted consciousness, or restricted attention. Bound by that state, we move through life, concentrating on one extreme or another, unaware of the fact that “to be” implies “not to be,” and vice versa.

The third Noble Truth is called nirvana. This word means “exhale.” You know that breath is life, and the Greek word pneuma conveys this same idea. It can mean either breath or spirit. In the Book of Genesis, when God had made the clay figurine that was later to be Adam, He breathed the breath of life into its nostrils and it became alive. Life is breath; but if you hold your breath you will lose your life. He who would save his life must lose it. Breathe in, in, in, get as much life as you can, and if you cling to it, you lose it. So nirvana means to breathe out: it is a great sigh of relief. Let the breath of life go because it will come back to you if you do. But if you do not let it go you will suffocate. A person in the state of nirvana is in a state of exhalation. Let go, don’t cling, and you will be in the state of nirvana.

I reemphasize that l am not preaching to you about what you ought to do with your life. I am simply pointing out the state of affairs of the world as it is. There is no moralism in this whatsoever. If you put your hand into a fire, you will get burned. It is all right to get burned if you want to, but if it so happens that you do not want to get burned, then don’t put your hand in a fire. It is the same if you do not want to be in a state of anxiety. It is perfectly all right to be anxious, if you like to be anxious. Buddhism never hurries anyone. It says, “You’ve got all eternity to live in various forms, therefore you do not have just one life in which to avoid eternal damnation. You can go running around the wheel in the rat race just as long as you want, so long as you think it’s fun. And if there comes a time when you no longer think it’s fun to be anxious, you don’t have to continue.” Someone who disagrees with this may say, “We ought to engage the forces of evil in battle and put this world to right, and arrange everything in it so that everything is good and nothing is bad.” Try it, please. It is perfectly okay to try. And if you discover that these attempts are futile, you can then let go. You can give up clinging. Relax in that way and you will be in the state of nirvana. You will become a buddha. Of course, that will make you a rather astonishing person, although you may be subtle about it and disguise your buddhahood so that you will not get people mixed up.

The Buddha explained that his doctrine or method was a raft, sometimes called a yana, meaning a vehicle or conveyance. When you cross a river on a raft and you get to the other shore, you do not pick up the raft and carry it on your back. People who are hooked on religion are always on the raft. They are going back and forth and back and forth on the raft. The clergyman tends to become a ferryman who is always on the raft and never gets over to the other shore. There is something to be said for that, of course. How else are we to get the raft back to the first shore to bring over more people? Somebody has to volunteer to make the return journey. But one must realize that the real objective is to get the people across and set them free. If you dedicate yourself to ferrying people across, do not ask them to come back on the raft with you. People must not think that the raft is the goal; they must understand that it is simply a conveyance to the other shore, which is the real goal. When clergymen say, “We would like your pledge, your voluntary contribution,” and nobody knows how much money to give, that is attachment to the idea of the raft.

We come now to the fourth Noble Truth, which is called marga. This word means “path.” The way of Buddhism is often called the Noble Eightfold Path because of the eight methods or practices that are components of this last noble truth. These eight steps can be divided into three phases. They are not sequential and so do not need to be followed in any particular order. They are described by the word samyak, which, though it is usually translated as meaning “right,” is actually the same, really, as our word sum: total, complete, all-inclusive. We might also use the word integrated-as when we say a person has integrity, is all of a piece, is not divided against himself-as a synonym for samyak.

The first phase of the eightfold path of the fourth Noble Truth consists of three components: right view, right consideration, and right speech. Right view, samyak drishti, is related to samyak darshan, which means a point of view, or a viewing. When you go to visit a great guru or teacher to have darshan, you look at him and offer your reverence to him. Darshan has many senses, but it means, simply, to view, or to look at the view.

As an example of right view, let us consider the right view of the constellation called the Big Dipper. When we look out from our specific, earthly point in space, it seems that the stars that form the Big Dipper must naturally form it, and always will. But imagine looking at them from somewhere else in space altogether. Those stars would not look like a dipper. They would be in an altogether different position relative to each other. What is the true relationship of those stars, then? There isn’t one? Or else you could say that the true view of those stars would be their relationship when looked at from all points of view simultaneously. That would be the truth. But there is no such thing as the truth. The world, in other words, does not exist independently of those who witness it. Its existence derives from the existence of a relationship between the world and its witnesses. So if there are no eyes in this world, the sun doesn’t make any light, nor do the stars. That which is, is a relationship. You can, for example, prop up two sticks by leaning them against each other. They will stand, but only by depending on each other. Take one away and the other falls. So in Buddhism it is taught that everything in this universe depends on everything else.

This is called the Doctrine of Mutual Interdependence. Everything hangs on you and you hang on everything, just as the two sticks support each other. This idea is conveyed in the symbol of Indra’s net. Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web covered with dewdrops. Every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops, and in each reflected dewdrop are the reflections of all the other dewdrops in that reflection, and so on, ad infinitum. That is the image of the Buddhist conception of the universe. The Japanese call that ji ji muge. Ii means a thing, event, or happening. Muge means “no separation.” So, between happening and happening there is no separation: ji ji muge.

The second phase of the fourth Noble Truth has to do with action. It consists of three more paths: the paths of right action, right livelihood, and right effort. The Buddhist idea of ethics is based on expediency. If you are engaged in the way of liberation and you want to clarify your consciousness, your actions must be consistent with that goal. To this end, every Buddhist takes comfort in three refuges and makes five vows.

The Three Refuges are the Buddha; the dharma, or doctrine; and the sangha, or the fellowship of all those who are on the way. The Five Precepts are to undertake to abstain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from exploiting the passions, from falsifying speech, and from being intoxicated.

If you kill people you have to become involved in the consequences of that action. If you steal you have to suffer attachment to the consequences of that action. If you exploit your passions you must pay the consequences of that. A lot of people who suffer from obesity are trying simply to fill their empty psyche by stuffing themselves with food, but it is the wrong cure. If you start lying, you will become involved with the consequences of that action. speech will collapse. So these five precepts represent a purely practical and utilitarian approach to mortality.

The last phase of the Eightfold Path concerns the mind, or its state of consciousness, and has to do with what we would ordinarily call meditation. In this phase are the two final aspects of the path, the seventh and eighth. They are called samyak smriti and samyak samadhi.

Smriti means recollection or mindfulness. The word re-collect means to gather together what has been scattered. The opposite of “remember” is obviously “dismember.” What has been chopped up and scattered becomes re-membered. In the Christian scheme- “Do this in remembrance of me”-the Christ has been sacrificed and chopped up, and the mass is a ritual of remembrance. One of the old liturgies says that the wheat that has been scattered all over the hills and then grows is gathered again into the bread, i.e., re-membered. In the Hindu View the world is regarded as the result of the dismemberment of the self, the brahman, the godhead. The one has been dismembered into the many. So remembrance means to realize that each single member of the many is really the one; that is re-collection.

You can think of this in another way. It is really the same way, but I will not explain exactly how. I will leave you with a few puzzles. This other way to be recollected is to be completely here and now.

There was a wise old boy who used to give lectures on these things and he would get up and not say a word. He would just look at the audience and examine every person individually, and everyone would start to feel uncomfortable. He wouldn’t say anything but would just look at everyone. Then he would suddenly shout, “WAKE UP! You’re all asleep.”

Are you here, recollected? Most people aren’t. They are bothering about yesterday and wondering what they are going to do tomorrow, and they are not all here. That is a definition of sanity, to be all here. To be recollected is to be completely alert and available for the present, which is the only place you are ever going to be in. Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow never comes. There is only today. A great Sanskrit invocation says, “Look to this day, for it is life. In its brief course lies all the realities of our existence. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a vision. Look well then to this day.”

Beyond smriti, recollectedness, being all here, comes the last step of the Eightfold Path, samyak samadhi. Samyak samadhi is integrated consciousness; in it there is no separation between knower and the known, subject and object. You are what you know.

We think ordinarily that we are witnesses to a constantly changing panorama of experience from which we, as the knowers of this experience, stand aside and watch. We think of our minds as a kind of tablet on which experience writes a record. Eventually experience, by writing so much on the tablet, wears it out, scratches it away, and then we die. But actually there is no difference between the knower and the known. I cannot explain this to you in words; you can only find it out for yourself. When I say, “I see a sight; I feel a feeling,” I am being redundant. “I see” implies the sight. “I feel” implies the feeling. Do you hear sounds? No, you just hear. Or else you can say simply that there are sounds; either way of expressing it will do. If you thoroughly investigate the process of experiencing, you will find that the experience is the same as the experiencer. This is the state of samadhi.

I suggested before that the organism and the environment are a single behavioral process. Now I will put it another way: the knower and the known are the same. You, as someone who is aware-walong with all that you are aware of-are a single process. That is the state of samadhi.

You get to the samadhi state by the practice of meditation. Virtually every Buddha figure is seen in the posture of meditation, sitting quietly, aware of all that is going on without commenting on it, without thinking about it. When you cease categorizing, verbalizing, talking to yourself, the difference between knower and known, self and other, simply vanishes. What is the difference, anyway? Can you point to the thing that makes my fingers different from each other? There is no thing called difference. The idea of difference is an abstraction. It just does not exist in the physical world.

This is not to say, however, that my fingers are all the same. They are neither different nor the same. Difference and sameness are ideas. You cannot point to an idea. You cannot put your finger on it. This is what Buddhists mean when they say the world is basically sunya, empty, a void. Everything is sunya. You cannot catch the world in a conceptual net any more than you can catch water in a net. Sunya does not mean that the world itself and the energy of the world are nothing, however. It means that no concept of the world is valid. No ideas or beliefs or doctrines or systems or theories can contain the universe.

If you “exhale,” then, if you let go of conceptions, you will be in the state of nirvana, for no reason that anybody can explain. When you enter that state there will well up from within you what the Buddhists call karuna, or compassion. This is the sense that you are not separate from everybody else but that everybody else is suffering as you are. It is a tremendous sense of solidarity with all other beings. The person who reaches nirvana does not withdraw from the world, therefore, but comes back from samadhi into it and its difficulties and all the problems of life renewed and filled with compassion for everyone.

BL Summer Bingo: River Rafting

“Jack - okay, I don’t think this is a good idea -” Rhys eyes the upcoming rapids. They look a lot…rapider than they had looked in the brochure.

“It’s fine, it’s fine - where’s your sense of adventure?” Jack doesn’t seem to share Rhys’ concern, leaning forward as the first bit of spray hits his face.

“I think I left it back in the cabinnnnn!” The word ends in a shriek as the raft enters the rapids proper. Rhys’ jaw snaps shut as the raft is bounced up and down and side to side; he’s fairly sure he’s going to have whiplash after this - if he survives the next few moments, that is. He squeezes his eyes shut as spray and wind buffet him from all sides, and faintly over the roar of water he can hear Jack laughing, wild and giddy.

At least someone’s enjoying himself.

When the water evens out a little and Rhys doesn’t feel like he might be thrown out of the boat at any moment, he opens his eyes cautiously. This part of the river is smoother, although the current is still swift. Rhys is soaked to the bone, his carefully arranged hair plastered flat to his head, and Jack’s not in much better shape, although somehow he’s still wearing his sunglasses.

Jack turns and grins at Rhys. “Oh man, that was wild, right?”

“I hate you.” Rhys glares and tries to smooth his hair into some kind of order.

“You love me.” Jack sounds entirely too smug.

“You’re paying for any water damage to my arm.”

“Worth it.”

And the therapy I’ll need for this near-death experience.”

“Aw come on, now you’re just being dramatic.”

“I am being perfectly reasonable -”

“Besides -” Jack’s grin deepens and Rhys’ stomach sinks as the roar of the water picks up again and the current quickens. “The next ones are supposed to be even bigger.”