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

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

Buddha Lyft

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 [...]

By |2019-05-31T16:18:00-05:00April 30th, 2018|Insight|0 Comments

Resurrection 2018

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, [...]

By |2018-07-02T08:27:25-05:00April 2nd, 2018|Insight|0 Comments