Reflecting on happier times, 8 months ago, when we thought Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was just a buffoon with a terrible photographer.
A Tale of Two Birds and Tantric Meditation, by Zeena Schreck
I’ve just returned from my biannual meditation retreat focused on Phowa, a Tibetan Buddhist practice that prepares you to consciously transfer your mind stream from the body at the moment of death.
The Phowa lineage I’m from is called the Mahasiddha path, which is a solitary, non-monastic discipline wherein yogis, or yoginis, receive a specific transmission or teaching from their guru. This transmission is to be perfected over many years until certain signs appear, which are then reflected upon and confirmed.
The solitary retreat I took wasn’t removed from my familiar environment. Its only separation from worldly affairs, time, and space was through the power of mind and the discipline of daylong practices over several weeks. Ideally, a proper retreat shouldn’t be interrupted. It should be regarded as your own temporary death while living—an unhooking from all worldly routines and concerns. The only interruptions allowed are sickness or death.
Sickness and death are two things I’m not a stranger to. Aside from being an artist and meditation teacher, I’ve worked in hospitals and mortuaries for over a quarter-century and have aided many humans and animals through their last vital moments. I recognize the signs of imminent death.
While I’m not at liberty to describe the exact practices that occurred throughout my retreat, I can share an unprecedented anomaly that took place.
The $wiftest Pigeon
What is the sound of 1 million yuan flapping?
While most nouveau riche happily spend their new money on shit the old money has already deemed acceptable, China’s spoiled young princelings aren’t content with horses, sports cars, and insanely tacky watches alone. In tribute to the intrepid bootleggers who’ve propped up their country’s market economy, China’s rich have taken arguably the worst bird of all time, the pigeon, and slapped a Louis Vuitton logo on it. Racing pigeons are the new thoroughbreds here, with birds auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece and races netting millions for the championship flock. Which sucks for the old timers, whose balcony-bred birds don’t stand a chance against these million-dollar superflocks. And which just sucks in general because, well, pigeons. Fucking pigeons.