Engaging Multiple Perspectives and Dakshen Nyamje

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is a practice called Dakshen Nyamje (phoneticized Tibetan), which means, roughly: recognizing our sameness with others and trading places even if only in imagination until we have an insight that allows us to understand directly that others are as or more important than ourselves. There are plenty of extraordinary commentaries in the Tibetan Buddhist literature that will tell you what Dakshen Nyamje is and how to practice it, but I would like to offer some words about what this practice means for me, not having really practiced it or much less realized it at all, but being inspired by it nonetheless, and as a way to remind myself of why I embarked on the Mahayana path to begin with. How are we all identical? Since few if any of us wake up in the morning and confidently declare: Bring it on! May I have a stress-filled day full of perfect bullies, petty tyrants, impossible situations, long tech [...]

By |2018-09-01T05:58:21-05:00June 9th, 2018|Insight|0 Comments

All You Need Is…

"Twelve long years of austere practice in solitary retreat had brought the noble Asaṅga to an extraordinary level of spiritual maturity. In turning to Maitreya, Regent of the Buddha Śākyamuni and embodiment of perfect love, his heart and mind had become profoundly receptive, moistened and nourished by the waters of love. Yet while his spiritual awakening was soon to set in motion a liberating wave of events that would reach millions, Asaṅga was not aware of the deep changes that had been taking place within himself. In fact, he saw himself as a failure. His heart was as cold as ever, he thought, and the vision of the profound reality that the Buddha had discovered remained a distant and elusive dream. During his many years in retreat he had been at the verge of complete despair before, but each time some incident had occurred that would remind him both of the futility of mundane pursuits and the power of perseverance. This time, however, [...]

By |2018-06-09T11:31:52-05:00June 9th, 2018|Insight|1 Comment

Red pill or blue pill?

How do we collapse our story in that moment of mounting friction, hostility, and contraction around a perceived so monumental difference? We can start by recognizing that whatever narrative, whatever story we cleave to is but a narrative; one among billions. We can bring our awareness to observe thoughts come and go the way clouds cross the sky. Have trouble identifying what a thought is? Two main forms: mental image, and mental talk. We most often animate painful experiences by calling to mind mental images and thoughts of that past moment, often long past moment, which is not this present one. See how we get stuck in stories and our often facile conclusions of what went down? When an image or inner talk occur; we can just notice that they are occurring. Whether a thought's content/meaning is worth your time can be determined on the basis of whether that meaning furthers habitual knee jerk reactivity or a meta-perspective. We can recognize the limitation in believing [...]

By |2018-06-09T11:31:59-05:00June 9th, 2018|Philosophy|0 Comments

Cognito Ergo Sum

Today discussing with friend Sam the infamous Descartes decree: Cogito Ergo Sum, Sam said: What? Isn't it CogNito Ergo Sum? No, I replied, it's recorded as Cogito; Cogito Ergo Sum. Then I said, yeah, wonder if it was a typo at which I was seized by a cathartic fit of laughter. Missing N. Imagine that? And how different the planet today would be if we recognized, in our direct experience from one moment to the next, the vital difference between Cogito Ergo Sum and Cognito Ergo Sum. Cognito Ergo Sum: I am aware therefore I am. I am not a Latin scholar, so if I mis-conjugated Cognito I request your clemency; you get the idea. Thank the heavens I am not my thoughts; not my compulsive or even ordered thinking. Without first awareness wherefore thoughts? How does it help me to embody fullest presence to be identified with thoughts? Anything I can observe, including thoughts in the form of mental images and mental talk, [...]

By |2018-06-09T11:32:04-05:00June 9th, 2018|Philosophy|0 Comments

Proceed with Love

Decades after his apparent demise, Martin Luther King is still inspiring. How? His love: Poor Peoples Campaign We all get sick, some old, and all die. We might live and die with a "net worth" of billions, the glorified success paradigm of an ultra materialist and capitalist society. But the real worth is what we offered to uplift, educate, heal, and empower others. We might think our privilege and trinkets will always be there to protect us, but the human heart was made to love, nurture, and share, not to bully and hoard. The Buddha said in the Tamonata Sutta that there are four kinds of individuals: those who go from darkness to darkness, those who go from darkness to light, those who go from light to darkness, and those who go from light to light. The Buddha gives examples of each so that we can discern the right path. The necessary consequence of greedy self-importance is demise. Cherish others, ache for their freedom from [...]

By |2018-06-09T11:32:12-05:00June 9th, 2018|Insight|0 Comments

No Additives

Kindness is not just an additive, something we add to our normal behavior to make us better more adaptive people. Kindness expresses itself radiantly and creatively through absence; through the stilling and eventual stopping of what the Buddhists call <em>kleshas,</em> or mental afflictions (harming mental states) like anger, jealousy, pride, greed, etc. A very special wisdom allows for the eventual stopping, but more about it later. There is an incredible body of literature dedicated to identifying and describing the mind and mental factors in Buddhism. Without knowing which mental states are toxic for ourselves and others, which ones inhibit or distort progress on the spiritual path, regardless of the path we follow, we may endlessly experience misery and never connect the dots. For example, kindness naturally surfaces through checking, reducing, and eventually stopping anger, whether expressed through what the Buddhists call the "three doorways of body, speech and mind": in gestures/expressions, verbal habits/patterns, or thoughts. We think our thoughts are "private".  Um, okay, [...]

By |2018-06-09T11:32:22-05:00June 9th, 2018|Insight|0 Comments

Wound As Ointment

Awakening is in the wounds themselves, when we perceive their "we-ness." We respect and tend the wounds without fixating on them as being only wounds. Until wounds evoke our mercy and acceptance in the deepest way, we will not be able to cultivate actual compassion. What to do around woundedness? Just as we move gently and carefully around a person with a broken arm on the subway, we exercise care and gentleness toward our own and others' wounds. Our wounds are the bridge to authentic compassion. We want to fix or remove them before listening to their teaching. If others' wounds aren't recognized as being our own, how will we awaken? Whatever irritates, frightens, or disgusts us about another is a portal to our own awakening, if we allow ourselves to go through the door back to ourselves right then, bravely.Whatever irritates, frightens, or disgusts us about ourselves asks our utmost care, observation, love, and gentleness; not abrasion, criticism, disdain, or chilly dismissal. We wouldn't [...]

By |2018-07-24T21:09:32-05:00June 9th, 2018|Insight|0 Comments

The Error of Extrusion

Soon I will drop myself as a habit. Drop the habit of myself like letting a glass fall from loosened fingers to the floor, liquid and all. Drop the careful architecture of focused blindness and the error of extrusion, of existing as though only I do. I will seep into the sidewalk as another of its cracks and know the crow's wing as my rudder. Sounds will be carried on my body through walls and sights will flash as the pounding now on mute as I gaze at the space in this everywhere.

By |2018-06-09T01:47:34-05:00June 9th, 2018|Poetry|0 Comments

Holding the Space for the Living

What does it mean to hold space? Refraining from judgment, from the impulse to fix, from the impulse to extrude, from the impulse to clutch in the fist of rightness. Before we go into panic mode tightening around our narrative, tightening around what appears to us to be happening, we can just breathe, release, smile, and get out of the corner of only my interpretation. Thus instead of latching on to the crises, the violation, the wrongness of a thing, the harm of a thing, we can know the space that holds it, that yields it, and thereby have a chance to invoke healing. But does this mean we remain unresponsive zombies in conversation because we're privileging holding space? No. We respond from a place of having acknowledged spaciousness. We can laugh a little and recognize that my inner jungle gym exists in space, and I don't need to identify with it so strongly. We radically condition each other. How do we interact [...]

By |2018-06-09T01:47:40-05:00June 9th, 2018|Philosophy|0 Comments