Autumn Awareness and Seasonal Impermanence
Many of the spiritual arts in Japan such as calligraphy, tea ceremony, archery, aikido, pottery, and lacquerware are associated with autumn, this time of the year when ‘letting go’ pervades the air. In Japan, this season rolls around with a color and intensity that is rare to see, especially in urban settings where air pollutants have diminished the brilliance of the hues. And fall is represented by the turning colors of maple trees. Bright green maple leaves slowly transform into a golden, then bright red. In Japanese, this stunning red foliage is called momoji.
But in this transitional period, as days shorten and temperatures cool (slowly in the southwest US) we are also fortunate to experience the abundance of the summer’s child : the fall harvest! How interesting that in the process of decline we first fill up.
Art Inspired Mindfulness
What secrets beckon this deep
Solitude indulges the hidden recesses
stored in my mind.
Contemplative nature among the spaces,
between the old growth standing upright
Curiosity enchants this gift of time and place.
The invitation to enter beckons…
In the spiritual traditions of Zen Buddhism, we find many forms of artistic expression. Beginning with the Rinzai lineage of the koan, a form of asking a question that goes beyond ordinary discursive thinking and invites one to be with the ‘riddle-like’ thought put before them. Wikipedia provides this description: Kōan (公案) is a story, dialogue, question, or statement which is used in Zen practice to provoke the “great doubt” and to practice or test a student’s progress in Zen.
Opening to the Mystery
Drapes of Wisteria
Hanging from the heavens
Betrothed in a dusk sky
Highlight the ancient temple
In respect I bow to the
Mystery of life.
— By Lhasha
Climate Change and Mindfulness in 2021
As President Biden recently inferred, climate change left unchanged and free to wreak havoc on our lives, is one of the most dangerous forces we face. As deadly as the pandemic, and over time more completely destructive of quality of life, more consuming of wealth, and used as a force of international terrorism, it portends mass ruination on a global scale. The planet heating up and the effects on the oceans, are problems we have ignored for way too long.
We are all suffering and being overwhelmed by nature’s reactions. From the melting of the Polar ice caps, some of the land sinking and the oceans rising; to the floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes that are stronger and fiercer than ever before; to the raging fires in the Western US and the gigantic bushfires in Australia, “what you sow, ye shall reap”. Our continued indulging and overuse of carbon intensive processes promises more trouble and deaths. This state of fact can be depressing but yet calls us to action.
The Way to Peace of Mind : Buddhist Ethics
Sila, is the Pali word for “moral discipline”. Although it appears to have some overlapping meanings, it primarily refers to right conduct and practicing a moral mind state. It often includes adherence to right speech, right action, and right livelihood as part of the Noble Eight Fold Path which are guidelines for establishing noble character through inner and outer behaviors.
Today, we are exposed to an abundance of reckless and violent behavior emanating from certain individuals and groups who adhere to views and opinions that reflect the beliefs and bias of domestic terrorists, and engender socially destructive actions and harm. Examples of this harm are the recent murders of eight Asian massage therapists, and of the ten people shot to death at a King Soopers Grocery in Boulder, CO.
What does the Buddha say about this?
Remembering who we really are during these times of challenge and difficulty presents obstacles for so many of us, and yet is the source from which consciousness, freedom, and wisdom are born. It is when we are most faced with the causes of suffering: illness, grief, bias and racial prejudice, poverty and homelessness, that we can open to the possibilities of waking up to the goodness within us and the world around us. These ancient words, often spoken by Jack Kornfield reflect this truth:
“Oh nobly born, oh you who are the sons and daughters of the awakened ones, the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas. Do not forget who you really are, do not forget your true nature.”
Freedom from Harm, Cultivating Love in 2021
As we birth ourselves into 2021, and all it brings with it, we can take time to look purposefully toward the next four years, and what we will create. The past carries a great deal of heavy baggage that we seek to find a way to dismantle — even though it is messy and complex. We look forward to a future of intentionality where we can reconstruct healing modalities and build new relationships with a focus on mutual consideration and no harm for all.
The Buddha spoke these words 2,600 years ago, putting forth the path to this end:
Bringing the Sacred to 2021
When we recognize the sacred in our daily life we can relish the simplest action, opening our heart, and transforming mundane activities into meaningful experiences.
The word sacred has many uses and synonyms. At times, it represents a form of reverence and respect symbolized by some special object, place, or event that manifests as a wise and balanced mind and heart. It is associated with the word sanctity and embodies qualities of holiness, blessings, devotion, spirituality, goodness, uprightness, and virtue.
Practicing the Three Refuges
How do we face and live with life’s ever-changing flow of circumstances that can bring the unexpected loss of loved ones, sickness and injury, uncertain economic security, aging, fear, the loss of control, and the accompanying anger that can arise in response to unpredictable conditions? Our hearts and minds yearn for a way to meet these challenges.
There is a way to find peace, ease, faith, happiness, and freedom amidst all this. In Buddhist teachings, there is a training called the Three Refuges, a practice that brings solace and serenity to an aching heart and mind. Continue reading