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 [...]
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, [...]
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 [...]
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.
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 [...]
I have written this post (which I had published in another blog in May 2017) in response to an interesting phenomenon that I have experienced relying on Lyft for transportation in various places since I ordained as a Buddhist nun two years ago after a thirty year dance with the precious Buddhist teachings. As a Buddhist nun, my maroon robes and shaved pate draw many, many questions, most of them from genuine interest. I never imagined that living in this monastic uniform as an itinerant nun would pique the interest and curiosity of so many people everywhere I go, whether to Trader Joe’s (where an employee once approached me with a PAID stickered bouquet of flowers on the eve of the anniversary of my late Teacher’s passing) stores, airports, libraries, bookstores, etc. While my naturally optimal habitat is the silence of cavernicolous retreat where I can cultivate the qualities advocated by the Buddha as being most beneficial for oneself and others, due to [...]
Jordan Peterson since well before the publication of his best-selling book 12 Rules for Life has been making a splash with, among other dicta: clean up your room; the idea being that if you can't bring attention, decency, and integrity to your corner of the world you have no right to hold placards, march, or otherwise demand policy etc. changes in the broader world. Self-mastery first, he asserts. I agree. I am reminded of my early days of Buddhist training in Howell NJ with my late Teacher Khensur Lobsang Tharchin. During a period after older attendants had relocated elsewhere and before newly appointed attendants had arrived from India, my duties included caretaking, cooking, admin work, yard work and general serving at the Temple in Howell. The very first week I had brought down his lunch tray and placed the dishes in the sink. Pulled away to attend to other tasks that included admin work for a grant-funded project, I forgot about the dishes. [...]
Christians all over the world celebrated Easter today. I was so moved by watching the video of HH Pope Francis performing the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. Anyone who is not moved by that all I can say is get well soon. Grace and humility are beautiful features of awakened beings. In India the foot-bathing ritual is ancient and well known: pada puja. Required for it are immense devotion and humility, two qualities quickly becoming endangered species in the palette of human behavior. But back to the resurrection. Christianity's theologians can tell you a lot more than I can about how the resurrection is understood, and its significance. For me, thinking about the resurrection brought to mind a number of loosely connected thoughts. While the resurrection of Christ amounts to a cosmic feat of epic proportions, in order to stay more humbly connected to the message that is for me contained in that sacred event, I feel we experience a resurrection, [...]
Boundless Love – May all beings have happiness and its causes. Boundless Compassion – May all beings be free from misery and its causes. Boundless Joy – May all beings never be separated from the joy that is beyond all misery. Boundless Equanimity – May all beings always abide in equanimity, not clinging to dear ones and hating any others. Boundless Health – May all beings recover completely from all illnesses of mental and physical pollution now and always. Boundless Ecological Health – May all beings be at ease in a pure and healthy outer and inner environment now and always. Boundless Peace – May all beings enjoy inner peace and world peace now and always.
Alanis Morisette sang her song Thank U released in 1998: How 'bout getting off of these antibiotics How 'bout stopping eating when I'm full up How 'bout them transparent dangling carrots How 'bout that ever elusive kudo Thank U India Thank U terror Thank U disillusionment Thank U frailty Thank U consequence Thank U thank U silence When I first heard this song nearly two decades ago, the catharsis it produced in me was beyond description. Her particular words seemed particularly relevant to my particular situation, and each word sung stretched its arms to the sun like cosmic branches with all scenarios relating to their resonances dangling from them. So I've been contemplating, and occasionally prescribing gratitude for some time. Ingratitude, or inability to recognize or acknowledge the thankable (which can include the unthinkable) can be at least partially blamed for what I see as being like the nasty cruddy slime-ola stringy gloppy hair clumps clogging drains and pipes, and which in my [...]