In May 2020, I had the fortune of engaging in one month of solitary retreat, supported by a grant from the Hemera Foundation. I spent a portion of my time reading, studying and contemplating the writings of Machig Labdrön, the great 11th century Tibetan yogini. I chose “slogans” or pith instructions to bring into my … More “Look in the Way of Not Looking:” Reflections from Retreat
There is such a vast array of emotions circulating through us in these strange times. I hear about sadness, uncertainty, anxiety, fear. I also hear about gratitude, a sense of connectedness, inspiration, even joy. Within my own heart-mind there’s a swirl of emotions that move from calm to excitedness, spaciousness to tightness. One thing seems … More Awakened Heart: Reflections on these Times
It’s easy to feel compassion for those closest to us, our loved ones or those who have been generous to us. Our care arises almost of its own accord. On the other end of the spectrum is the goal of feeling love and compassion for our enemies; this is the lofty aim of many traditions … More Everyday Compassion: Minding the Stranger
There’s something hauntingly inspiring about the charnel ground image for me, the place where that which we continuously avoid and cover up is finally revealed, exposed, laid bare. With its half-rotting corpses, partially chewed limbs and sun-bleached bones, the charnel ground is without pretense, raw, unabashed in its display of impermanence. In early Buddhist teachings, … More Jewel of the Charnel Ground
There’s a certain time of day when I get the nibbles – usually late afternoon but sometimes at night, right before bed. I open kitchen cabinets, the fridge, the chip drawer scanning what might satisfy me. But there’s something insatiable in my being. In reality I’m not really hungry, I’m not really looking for food. … More Enough Already! Hungry Ghosts & the Practice of Savoring
I’ve always thought of Pride as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, right up there with Lust, Gluttony and Avarice. In the Buddhist tradition, pride is one of the five poisons, accompanied by a similar entourage of desire, jealousy, anger and ignorance. Pride, of course, evokes the image of a puffed-out chest, an overly confident … More Vajra Pride: Awakening Primordial Self-Esteem
The Buddhist teachings on mindfulness invite us to become fully present in each moment, yet I realize how much of my time is spent anticipating some future event. Sometimes it’s with excitement for an upcoming trip, or just a night out; sometimes it is a bit more anxious, like teaching a new class or meeting … More Looking Forward to Now
We humans seem to come pre-programmed with a primeval fear of negativity.
We are so deeply conditioned to turn away from what we sense or perceive as negative, uncomfortable, painful, or unpleasant that we mostly do it automatically. Ironically, the avoidance itself is often very uncomfortable. It seldom leads to a sunny disposition, instead depositing us in the borderlands around our shadows.
So how to deal with this? … More Turning into Darkness
In Part I I reflected on busyness as a response to a fear of space which we try to cover up through activities and distraction. Another way to look at busyness is as a reaction to an underlying “poverty mentality,” a fundamental sense of dissatisfaction or lack. I think we can probably all identify with … More The Suffering of Busyness Part II: Poverty Mentality and Dissatisfaction – Reclaiming the All-Accomplished Moment
I recently heard about a study that found that “busyness” is the new status symbol. I grew up with images of the rich and powerful lounging on a long white beach, drink in-hand and not a care in the world. Now it seems that you prove your social standing by flaunting the number of engagements, commitments and responsibilities you have on any given day. The study showed that this is as true among the working class as it is for the middle and upper-middle classes. I have to admit: too often I find myself commiserating with a friend about my long to-do lists, my numerous and scattered work duties, child care needs, the dirty house, my forever overflowing inbox… It’s an easy – and seemingly always accurate – answer to “how are you?” Busy, busy, busy. Like we all are… … More The Suffering of Busyness