Here's Laurie Anderson from 1987 - 22 years ago.
I keep forgetting that the future was so long ago,
Despite my best application and use of these projects, the condition continued to worsen and I had to call in sick at work today because I physically could put on neither shoes or socks, and barely tolerated supporting my own weight on my feet as I tried to stand. So here goes - this is what they looked like:
Pretty gross, huh? Any young ladies out there want to give me a toe job (LOL)?
New water blisters were starting to form over the old broken blisters, and the swelling was constricting my foot muscles to the point where they were not working properly (hence the pain in walking). I learned on line that when the first layer of skin has been burned through and the second layer of skin is also burned, blisters develop and the skin takes on that intensely reddened, splotchy appearance. This is called second-degree burns, and they produce severe pain and swelling.
That sounded like what I had. According to the Mayo Clinic web site, "If the second-degree burn is no larger than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter, treat it as a minor burn. If the burned area is larger or if the burn is on the hands, feet, face, groin or buttocks, or over a major joint, treat it as a major burn and get medical help immediately." This burn was well over 3 inches - it ran from my ankles to my toes, and was over my feet. I read on another first-aid web site that 2nd and 3rd degree burns could swell tissues to the point where they cut off circulation, and if you felt a tingling sensation you should go to the ER immediately before gangrene set in. I felt a tingling in my numb toes and didn't want to lose any digits, so I finally (finally!) called my doctor and made an appointment.
He looked at my feet briefly and declared the burns to indeed be of the second degree, and gave me a shot of penicillin for potential infection of the broken blisters. He also prescribed me an antibiotic and told me to buy some Claritin as an antihistamine for the swelling. He advised me to keep my feet elevated (I already had noticed that they hurt less when laying in bed or propped up on an ottoman), stay hydrated, and to use an aloe/vitamin E skin lotion. He offered me some pain killers but despite the intense pain, I declined (not to be macho, but to avoid even the risk of dependency).
I've been following the doctor's orders and the swelling and reddening are already abating. The Claritin seems to have made the biggest difference (who would have guessed?). If you find yourself with similar burns for whatever reasons, I advise you to follow the on-line advice and seek medical attention immediately. But these are hard times and I know that many out there do not have health-care insurance or can't afford treatment. Out of compassion for the suffering of those, while I still encourage you to do everything possible to get free or affordable help at a clinic, if all else fails, at least buy some Claritin to control the swelling and use peroxide to keep the wounds clean. And see a nurse or doctor.
The Buddha or Dogen probably said something appropriate to my current situation, but you know what? - I'm in too much pain right now to go look it up. I know, I know, but there, I've said it. But I am looking forward to being able to resume my zazen practice again soon.
I eventually had to leave for the airport and my trip home. Removing and replacing my shoes for airport security aggravated my sunburn, especially since my feet had swelled from walking around all afternoon. My shoes, a normally comfortable pair of Merrell Jungle Mocs, felt two sizes too small for my swollen feet and the interiors felt like sandpaper, even through my socks.
We boarded the flight just as a thunderstorm hit the city, and spent the next two and a half hours of the tarmac waiting for conditions to change. We didn't even take off until the plane had been scheduled to arrive in Atlanta and were re-routed to a longer flight plan (fortunately, I had been upgraded to first class, which took away at least some of the discomfort). I didn't get home until well after midnight (I posted this the following Tuesday), and finally taking off those shoes and socks after all those hours was probably the most painful experience second only to wearing them for the duration of the flight.
But at least I'm finally back home.
In an evening talk Dogen said,
Most people in the world want to show off their good deeds and hide their bad deeds. Since this frame of mind goes against the minds of the unseen deities, their good deeds go unrewarded, and their bad deeds done in secret bring about punishment. Consequently, they conclude that there is no recompense for good deeds, and little merit in the buddha-dharma. This is a false view. We must certainly revise it. Do good things secretly while people are not watching, and if you make a mistake or do something bad, confess and repent of it. When you act in this manner, good deeds you have done in secret will have recompense, and wrongdoings will be revealed and repented so that punishment can be dispelled. Therefore, there will naturally be benefit in the present, and you will be sure of the future result.
At the time, a certain layman came and asked, “These days, although lay people make offerings to monks and take refuge in the buddha-dharma, much misfortune occurs; for this reason evil thoughts have arisen and people think they should no longer have faith in the Three Treasures. What do you think about this?”
Dogen replied, “This is not the fault of the monks or the buddha-dharma, but of the lay people themselves. The reason is as follows. For example, they revere and make offerings to monks who observe the precepts and eat in accordance with the regulations (one meal before noon) while in public eyes, but they withhold offerings to shameless monks who break the precepts, drink liquor, and eat meat, judging them to be worthless. This biased discriminating mind goes entirely against the spirit of the Buddha. Because of this, their faith and reverence is in vain and there is no reward. In various parts of the precepts-texts, there are admonitions against this frame of mind. You should make offerings to any monk regardless of whether or not he has any virtue. In particular, never judge his inner virtue by his outward appearance.
Although monks in this degenerate age look somewhat strange in their outward appearance, there are worse minds and deeds. Therefore, without discriminating between good monks and bad ones, respect all the Buddha’s disciples, make offerings and take refuge with a spirit of equality. Then you will surely be in accordance with the Buddha’s spirit, and the benefits will be extensive.
Also, consider the four phrases, ‘unseen action, unseen response; seen action, seen response; (unseen action, seen response; seen action, unseen response)’. There is also the principle of karma and its effect in the three periods of time; karma returning in the present life, in the next life, or in some later life. Study these principles very closely.”
“According to the unmistakenly handed down tradition, this buddha-dharma, which has been singularly and directly transmitted, is supreme beyond comparison. From the time you begin to practice under a teacher, incense burning, bowing, nenbutsu, as well as the practices of repentance or of reading the sutras, are unnecessary. Simply practice zazen (shikantaza), dropping off body and mind.”Shikantaza is zazen which is practiced without expecting any reward, even enlightenment. It is just being yourself right now, right here. Dogen similarly expounds on the importance of shikantaza in the first few chapters of Book 1:
"The true practice which is in accordance with the teaching is nothing but shikantaza, which is the essence of the life in this monastery today (Book 1- Chapter 1)."Dogen also talked about the importance of seeing impermanence and parting from egocentric self:
"For true attainment of the Way, devoting all effort to zazen alone has been transmitted among the buddhas and patriarchs. For this reason, I taught a fellow student of mine to abandon his strict adherence of keeping the precepts and reciting the Precept Sutra day and night. . . Practitioners of the Way certainly ought to maintain Hyakujo’s regulations. The form of maintaining the regulations is receiving and observing the precepts and practicing zazen, etc. The meaning of reciting the Precept Sutra day and night and observing the precepts single-mindedly is nothing other than practicing shikantaza, following the activities of the ancient masters. When we sit zazen, what precept is not observed, what merit is not actualized? The ways of practice carried on by the ancient masters have a profound meaning. Without holding on to personal preferences, we should go along with the assembly and practice in accordance with those ways (1-2)."
"For a Zen monk, the primary attitude for self-improvement is the practice of shikantaza. Without consideration as to whether you are clever or stupid, you will naturally improve if you practice zazen (1-4)."
"Ejo asked, '. . . [W]hat thing or what practice should we choose to devote ourselves to among the various ways of practice of the buddha-dharma?' Dogen replied, 'It depends upon one’s character or capability, however, up to now, it is zazen which has been handed down and concentrated on in the communities of the patriarchs. This practice is suitable for all people and can be practiced by those of superior, mediocre, or inferior capabilities. Now, each of you should practice exclusively and wholeheartedly. Ten out of ten of you will attain the Way' (1-14)."
"To learn the practice and maintain the Way is to abandon ego-attachment and to follow the instructions of the teacher. The essence of this is being free from greed. To put an end to greed, first of all, you have to depart from egocentric self. In order to depart from egocentric self, seeing impermanence is the primary necessity (1-4)."In Shobogenzo Bodaisatta-Shishobo, Dogen also notes:
“Free giving (dana) means not being greedy. Not being greedy means not coveting. Not coveting means, in everyday language, not courting favor."Egocentricity was defined in one of Okumura’s footnotes as “Assuming there is an ego existing in the body which is a temporal compound of various elements, thinking it to be eternal or substantial and attaching oneself to that ego. . . This is a fundamental delusion. Our practice is to see egolessness and the impermanence of all existence, and to live on that basis without greedy desires. Concretely, our desires manifest themselves by seeking fame and profit. This is why Dogen put emphasis on practicing the buddha-dharma only for the sake of the buddha-dharma, without expecting any reward, i.e. fame and profit."
"Our life changes moment by moment, it flows by swiftly day by day. Everything is impermanent and changing rapidly. This is the reality before our eyes. You do not need to wait for the teaching of masters or sutras to see it. In every moment, do not expect tomorrow will come. Think only of this day and this moment. Since the future is very much uncertain, and you cannot foresee what will happen, you should resolve to follow the Buddha-Way, if only for today, while you are alive. To follow the Buddha-Way is to give up your bodily life and act so as to enable the dharma to flourish and, to bring benefit to living beings (1-20)."Impermanence is also usually used in a negative sense, although Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, said, “Grass, trees, and bushes are impermanent, and are nothing but Buddha-nature. Human beings and things, body and mind are impermanent, and are nothing but Buddha-nature. The earth, mountains, and rivers are impermanent, because they are Buddha-nature. Supreme awareness (Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi) is impermanent, since it is Buddha-nature. The great Nirvana is Buddha-nature since it is impermanent.”
"Do not use foul language to scold or slander monks. Even if they are bad or dishonest, do not harbor hatred against them nor abuse them thoughtlessly. First of all, no matter how bad they may be, when more than four monks gather together, they form a sangha, which is a priceless treasure of the country. This should be most highly respected and honored. If you are an abbot or a senior priest or even a master or a teacher, if your disciples are wrong, you have to instruct and guide them with a compassionate and parental heart. . . Even though you may be an abbot or senior priest, it is wrong to govern the community and abuse the monks as if they were your personal belongings. Further, if you are not in such a position, you should not point out others’ faults or speak ill of them. You must be very, very careful. When you see someone’s faults and think they are wrong and wish to instruct them with compassion, you must find a skillful means to avoid arousing their anger, and do so as if you were talking about something else (1-7)."Gainingless-ness: "Once you have entered the Buddha-Way, you should practice the various activities just for the sake of the buddha-dharma . Do not think of gaining something in return. All teachings, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, exhort us to be free from the expectation of gaining a reward (1-9)."
"Even if you are speaking rationally and another person says something unreasonable, it is wrong to defeat him by arguing logically. On the other hand, it is not good to give up hastily saying that you are wrong, even though you think that your opinion is reasonable. Neither defeats him, nor withdraw saying you are wrong. It is best to just leave the matter alone and stop arguing. If you act as if you have not heard and forget about the matter, he will forget too and will not get angry. This is a very important thing to bear in mind (1-10)."
"It is rather easy to lay down one’s own life, and cut off one’s flesh, hands, or feet in an emotional outburst. Considering worldly affairs, we see many people do such things even for the sake of attachment to fame and personal profit. Yet it is most difficult to harmonize the mind, meeting various things and situations moment by moment. A student of the Way must cool his mind as if he were giving up his life, and consider if what he is about to say or do is in accordance with reality or not. If it is, he should say or do it (1-15)."