“I may not know my original face but I know how to smile.
I may not know the recipe for the diameter
Of a circle but I know how to cut a slice
for a friend. I may not be Mary or Buddha
But I can be kind. I may not be a diamond
Cutter but I still long for rays of light
that reach the heart.
I may not be standing on the hill of skulls
But I know love when I see it.”—Not Knowing, by Stephen Levine
What is real kindness? In our day and age, these words really translate as paying attention to the moment in a gentle, friendly, loving way. When we practice meditation and we take the time to bring a kind attention to the body, feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral), the emotions, and our thoughts — that is an act of kindness. Continue reading
Wise Livelihood and Guns
Wise or Right Livelihood is the fifth factor in the Noble Eightfold Path and belongs to the virtue section of the path. It is also the second quality of the Ten Perfections, virtuous conduct. In the Buddhist teachings, it is known as morality, ethics, integrity, and Sila from the ancient Pali language. Continue reading
As this year draws to its end,
we give thanks for the gifts it brought
and how they become inlaid within
where neither time nor tide can touch them.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
At the End of the Year —John O’Donohue
Transitioning and Welcoming 2018
As we shift from the turbulence of 2017 into the promise of the new year, it can be important and significant to look back and remember all the moments of peace, ease, interconnection, strength, tenacity, and happiness we experienced. Continue reading
“When we are connected wholeheartedly with others and the world, generosity is not a matter of deciding to give; giving simply flows out of us.” —Gil Fronsdal
Gratitude Engenders Generosity
When we experience gratitude, we feel connected to ourselves, life around us, and others. There is a deep stirring in the heart and mind of thankfulness. Rather than only seeing what is missing, we see clearly what we do have and its preciousness. Continue reading
Bringing Peace to Ourselves and Our World
When I listen to or read from other Dharma teachers, there is a piece of wisdom that they frequently offer as a foundation in bringing peace to life. They inform us that, without connecting with others through our intention, behavior, and action, we remain separated, distanced, alienated, and removed. This unhappy state unfolds as the “lonely heart.” A “lonely heart” often misunderstands others’ deeds and intentions, mistaking them as harmful, aversive, angry, and biased towards us.
The Eight Worldly Winds (The Eight Vicissitudes)
From the Mungalla Sutta
This time of year in Tucson is daily filled with breezy or windy weather, which blows dust in the air, knocks over trash cans and carries them away, burns and stings eyes, and much more. It often makes a mess and causes us irritation; and, interestingly, some of us enjoy its impact, variability, spacious blowing, and unexpected outcomes.
We are all different and so how we relate to these life winds varies, as do the winds themselves.
The definition of vicissitude is “the quality or state of being changeable, mutability; natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs” or “a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance; a fluctuation of state or condition the vicissitudes of daily life; a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one’s control; alternating change, succession.” These vicissitudes seem to be endless and out of our control; yet how we choose to respond to life’s conditions and events may be part of our path to cultivating happiness or being dragged down into a whirlwind of suffering. Continue reading
How to Transform Anger
When most of think about anger we have images of people yelling at each other, getting red in the face, tightening of the jaw and fists, nasty or insulting speech, actions that may involve some type of physical or psychological abuse, fear of being harmed, blaming, irritation, frustration, feeling annoyed just to name a few manifestations of this mind state.
Much of this type of anger when taken out on another person is actually a form of rage; a deep seated emotion that was likely triggered by some trauma or childhood abuse. It can be deeply destructive to oneself and to another. Often it is an ‘out of control’ reaction to suppressed wounds that have never been faced and healed. When the causes and conditions are ripe for these ‘angry behaviors” to manifest they emerge so quickly that they bypass our ability to even be aware of what is happening. They take over and we react. Continue reading
Beginning Anew, Beginning Again
This is the time of year when so many of us emerge from the festivities, celebrations, and doldrums of the holiday season ready for something new. We feel a longing to commit or re-commit to change. There is an inner urge to contribute in some way to our own lives or to our families or to reach out to the world’s many problems and lend a helping hand.
From deep within our psyche and heart, our conscience (that factor of being that intuitively knows when we are kind and caring and when we are not) is stimulated to clear out the old debris that is blocking the channels. Somehow we intuit that in this moment it is just and fair to rid ourselves of our unnecessary burdens — those extra burdens of what we no longer need, that have served us well, and are now blocking the plumbing. This practice is one partially of letting go and of then repairing what needs replacement. Continue reading