David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Education, Fame

Education

• Lynn Frances Anderson started out playing guitar and mandolin, but when she was in the 5thgrade, she hid her brother’s trumpet in the family pet’s doghouse one evening, and the next morning she smuggled it onto the bus so that she could learn to play it in the school band, although her mother had declined to sign her up for band. Fortunately, her mother was flexible. Ms. Anderson says, “She thought if I went to that much effort, she might as well let me learn.”

• A friend of Sharon Salzberg once attended a three-month meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Center in Massachusetts. He had several difficult days at the retreat, and finally he decided to leave the retreat, check into a motel, and watch a football game on TV. He did, and when he returned to the retreat, he was overcome by guilt. He told his teacher, Dipa Ma, what he had done. She looked at him, held his hand, and said, “That’s okay. Now you can start again.”

• Franz Liszt once read a score by a young man who could not write music. Liszt pointed to a place on the score, and then said, “This must not be done in music.” The young man haughtily replied, “But I have done it.” Liszt dipped his pen in an ink well, then splattered the ink all over the young man’s white waistcoat, and said, “This, too, canbe done, but it mustnot be.” Then Liszt bought the young man a new white waistcoat.

• Kato-Dewanokami-Yasuoki revered the martial arts. One day, Zen master Bankei visited him, and Yasuoki picked up his spear and pointed it at Bankei. However, Bankei merely used his rosary to flick the point of the spear aside, and then told Yasuoki, “No good. You’re too worked up.” Eventually, Yasuoki became a master of the spear and spoke of Bankei as having been his greatest teacher in that art.

• The Hasidic master Israel of Rizhin used to teach by using parables. For example: A traveler is alone on a road, trying to reach a town where he will be safe. It is night, and there is a lightning storm. If the traveler is foolish, he will look at the lightning and become more afraid, but if the traveler is wise, he will look at the road, which is well lit by the lightning.

• Hasidic Rabbi Meyer Premishlaner once pointed out that God gave us two eyes although we could see with only one eye. Why did God give us the extra eye? According to the Rabbi, “The answer is this: One eye is for seeing our neighbors’ virtues, and the other eye is for seeing our own failings.”

Fame

• Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin once said, “Everyone has the potential to look beautiful.” Don’t believe it? Believe it! Many models for his second book about makeup, FaceForward, were, as you would expect, famous actresses and models; however, many were so-called “ordinary” women, including his mother, Thelma Aucoin, whom he made up and photographed as herself, a 66-year-old mother and grandmother. The book also features transformations such as Liza Minelli transformed into Marilyn Monroe — and his mother transformed into Marlene Dietrich. Mr. Aucoin even asked a total stranger, Louisa Lee, whom he met while shopping, to allow him to make her up so he could put her in his second book. He also asked the same thing of sales associates (Angela Barrett and Marleen Everett), a gal Friday (Maryliam Crespi), and a friend’s mother (64-year-old Bobbie Reuter, who was born in Korea). By the way, Mr. Aucoin worried that whenever he would ask a total stranger to let him put her in a book, it would sound like a pickup line. However, since Mr. Aucoin was an out and rather flamboyant gay man, I’m not sure that many women thought that he was trying to pick them up.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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