January 4, 2011


Hey all the Rebel8 fans, we got the Eightfold Path again by Mike Giant. You guys been reading the past Eightfold last years. Now, Giant continues to write more about it on his Buddhist practice. Enjoy it and learn more.

I was 22 when I moved to San Francisco in October of 1993. I had just landed my first full-time art job at Think Skateboards and I had a room to rent at 1933 McAllister. I was making $7 an hour and thought I had it made. My job rocked, I was hanging out with pro skateboarders, the City was full of the best graffiti I’d ever seen and I was making lots of great new friends. Everything was gold. But deep down I missed my girlfriend who had moved to England for school. I was pretty lonely. So I distracted myself with lots of cheap beer, LSD, MDMA, raves, skateboarding and graffiti writing. But I still felt a deep dissatisfaction with day-to-day life and felt like I actually had to do something about it.
So the first thing I did was save up some money and bought my girl a flight to SF for Christmas break. I really wanted to show her how much I loved her and missed her when she arrived and thought the best way to do that was to improve my lovemaking skills. She was my first lover. All I knew about making love up to that point was what she had taught me, which to her credit was still a lot more than most of my buddies knew. So I strolled to Upper Haight and dug around for some books that might help me. I bought two: “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron and “The Art of Sexual Ecstasy” by Margot Anand. Both books helped open my heart and mind to vast new possibilities. And for almost a whole month I got to explore these new ideas with my lover. I think she certainly appreciated the effort.
But she had to go back to England and of course my depression and sense of dissatisfaction came back. But now I was on The Path. It had begun. Through Pema’s words I was beginning to see that my thinking mind was creating the discord in my day-to-day experience. And Margot’s teachings about the chakras and deep meditative breathing techniques helped me out right away. So I read lots more books. I filled my head with all kinds of Eastern philosophy and sacred sexuality. The ideas in Hinduism and Buddhism showed their worth right away in my daily life, so I gave my trust to them and continued to read more.
The ideas in those first books became tools for contemplation on my weekly solo LSD voyages and their message was really taken to heart in some very powerful ways. Throughout the mid to late 90s, at raves all over the Bay Area, I felt ecstatic release high on E, dancing all night long with thousands of like-minded humans, “feeling the love.” I was also spending a lot of time walking the streets alone in the middle of the night writing my name on the walls of my beloved City, something I’ve always found to be a deeply meditative and concentrated practice on impermanence.
Through these activities I was able to act on some of the ideas I was learning about in books. And I think that was a really important aspect of the dharma that I needed to recognize. I think the historical Buddha was very clear in stating that you can’t read your way to enlightenment. You have to do it. Nobody can do it for you. A dharma teacher once told me, “Happiness or unhappiness arises from our actions, not outside sources.” In other words, our progress on The Eightfold Path is gauged by our actions, nothing more.
In this way, I think the Buddha wanted us to be players, not fans. Please keep that in mind as you walk with me down his Path.

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