“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Sunday, August 31, 2014

upcoming retreat

"Retreat" is a misnomer. This is instead a forward march, an advance. It is a training session, bootcamp revisited, an obstacle course, a mountain to climb, an ocean to cross. In all these endeavors there is a clear "do or die" sense of accomplishment, satisfaction. But this is delusion, silly grasping, foolish looking forward.

There is an expectation that many hours will be passed, in room D at Emperor's, alone or in company, but alone regardless of company, watching...watching the animals that come to drink from the pond or the fish that rise to the surface or the passing reflections, to paraphrase Ajahn Chah.

But the Dhamma makes clear that all expectations fall short, all plans are doomed to fail, dukkha intervenes and this is the cause of chaos, randomness, change. Oh how grateful I am for change. Change provides variety, the spice of life. I expect the meditation to be change. I hope it will be change. But who knows? For me the changing has already begun. Effortless, flowing, gliding along the course, the seam between worlds.

This changing is an exercise to establish the strength to cooperate with the others who are change, to lend my strength to yours, to theirs to divert the course of cultivated greed anger and delusion into generosity, compassion and...wisdom. Just on the edge of reason, the conscious world, Gaia, welcomes our awareness and our contribution to her well being, our care for her well being, which is our well being.

So I invite you all to be compassion with me, and to start now without waiting.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Blame the body first

This teaching came to us long ago, I have forgotten its source but it is eternal and wise. We have to take care of the body, maintain it, give it proper nutrition, not tax it too much with chemicals like sugar, caffeine, nicotine, salt and the multi-syllable preservatives and additives of the food industry. We have to do the same for the mind, maintain it, give it proper training, not tax it too much with news media, advertisements, entertainment. The body houses the mind, it supports it, gives it the structure and foundation that allows us to interact with others. When the mind is unstable, distracted, overwhelmed or in pain we should look into the body first, see what disharmony or imbalance is present that could be attended to and so assist the mind. These things are tools, just as clothing, vehicles and computers are. They are not our selves. They are for our use, they have limited efficiency and wear out eventually. Like any successful journeyman we need to take care of the tools of our craft. The better we do that the better our performance.

A Buddhist Mystic seems to have a very difficult job, complex and challenging. It reaches and demands the very utmost of a being. For this it takes great good health, attendance to well being. We need to be ready for the unexpected because it does come when we are least prepared.  This is why it is so often likened to the warrior or the hunter. There are aspects of this that seem contradictory. We need discipline but if it is too rigid it leads to anger and unkindness. We need focused intention but we must be open to what comes and flexible at all times. We have to build and conserve but also relax and let go. This is the middle way, not too much and not too little, not so far one way or the other, but balanced, at ease, in harmony. Even in sickness, even in health, that balance can be held, and that is the essential Dhamma.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Dhamma, the teachings of the fully self awakened one, is used in psychology without attribution and in a shallow, half hearted - half understood way. Some therapeutic techniques or theories utilize some of the training principles, the more the better, but still they stop short of spiritual progress. Why is that? Perhaps the hindrance of skeptical doubt, lacking the faith to exceed expectations or go beyond the mundane.

We have the ability to expand our hearts and minds and with faith, trust, gratitude and generosity cultivate the kind of courage that allows this step upon the path of spiritual evolution.

I am taking a class in general psychology and observe that historically this step has provoked fear, labeling and resistance. But like the Borg, I believe resistance is futile. Evolution happens, and it can be trusted if based in generosity compassion and discernment. Mystics often ride very near the edge but there is no real need to fear. Those without the ability to care for themselves provide a treasure to those who give them care. Those who do not survive are reborn, and not one of us survives. That rebirth foregoes attachment to the previous existence but still some awareness and sense remains.

There is real pleasure in the Dhamma, in this revolution, but its not for everyone, only those with little dust in their eyes. We are so lucky, and we are growing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

mustard on your broccoli (and kale, collards etc)

wow, this your tube video shows how to get the most out of our brassica family veggies, there is a reason mustard goes so well with them!


Monday, August 25, 2014

a tamed trained guarded and restrained mind

The cloister for some of us monastics lies in avoiding exposure to toxic substances such as the news media, after all a tamed trained guarded and restrained mind is the source of the greatest happiness which is what we cultivate to become like a sun and shed warmth and relieve suffering in all we contact. But there are times when that cloister, the barrier to toxicity, is breached. That is when the practice comes in. Rajju Jim shared that great quote about being like a tree in the wind, you grow strong roots because of exposure, your roots are weak without it. Not that we should search this out, just that we need to be ready, and be aware when the challenge rises.

Challenges arise all the time, I used to use the saying "all difficulties are equal" to help overcome obstacles, maybe I need it again. The challenge today is to be cognizant of greed, anger and delusion and wipe them out in myself rather than being provoked into responding with the same.

What a wonderful opportunity to be part of creating something so beautiful as oneness.

Peace, Let it begin with me - thank you John Prine

The power we have lies in Noble Friendship, the capacity to empathize, to help one another return to the present, to loosen the grasp of our stories upon our minds and souls.

Tonight the clarity and determination to succeed that came with the Bodhisattva intention was refreshed for me in class when ethics in medical research was introduced and covered briefly. I have to remember that the hell realms are where we need to be to cultivate this intention, and so that is where I am, blessed though I am, I am aware of the suffering around me.

I am here to not contribute to the harm, to alleviate suffering directly and to bring about the enlightenment of all beings. The cessation of suffering - the end of the hell realms...I do believe it is happening but of course everything changes with that change and there is still so much that is amazing and wonderful here, especially with the contrasting extremes. 

The point is that when pain occurs, in order to stop suffering from it and to not cause further suffering and to not spread that suffering to others, I must find a way to become compassion. I believe Venerable's book the Missing Peace does the best job of any teaching available today of delivering the tools to make that possible.

Compassion meditation is the most effective and profoundly transformative of all forms of meditation. It is embodied by the first Jhanna, one pointedness has to be solid before it is readily available, and it has to be maintained, returned to, just like a friendship - regular contact is essential to its health.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

vitamins- a health related post

I was looking at supplements in the store the other day, the cost of vitamin and mineral supplements has soared! It's ridiculous, on another tangent I happened across this site which shows you how to make pine needle tea for vitamin C. It also is a source of vitamin A which you don't want to take too much of as it is fat soluble - too much Vitamin C you will pee out but too much vitamin A is toxic, so go easy, but check out the site,  http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/pineneedletea.html

Friday, August 22, 2014


I am consistently and repeatedly asked where is my temple, and I reply "right here." Most people seem to have the mistaken belief that ordained persons have to live in a monastery. In fact the early followers of the Buddha only gathered during the rainy season to avoid causing erosion or being a burden upon laity. So I have heard anyway.

Last night I told a fellow student that the concept of monasticism where the ordained dwell together for their lifetime apart from the world is a Catholic Xtian practice, not Buddhist.  I know that there are Buddhists who have practiced this way for centuries, after all we are to adapt to the culture we live in, to the time and place we live in. But originally that was not the idea and those who choose to live and practice according to their interpretation of the Dhamma should not suffer judgement or reprisals for that.

I also told him that when we commit to this practice we are each responsible for ourselves, that we are following the teachings of the Buddha in order to be really amazingly awesomely happy.

Politics in Buddhism

How can there be politics in Buddhism? isn't that contrary to the Dhamma?

Yes...if you can be generous, compassionate and discern what speech, action or livelihood is beneficial then you can follow guidelines to survive or even thrive in processes that might be considered political.

When there is self advancement, anger greed and delusion, a lack of humility or caring or attachment to our own opinion then politics is a symptom of disease and disease is by definition harm.

We pursue a different goal apart from orthodoxy or adherence rigid cultural practices, we seek enlightenment and enjoy that path. We are supported by the Sangha of Noble Friends and each other and others who have similar experiences. Now that I know that there is a divide I will be careful not to fall into it.

Dean's scholarship application - A Guide to Understanding Acupuncture Theory for the New Client

A Guide To Understanding Acupuncture Theory
For The New Client by Cleo Wolf

Acupuncture theory for the new client.jpg
But it hurts up here! not down there!

People who are new to acupuncture may not expect treatment to include body parts away from the site of their complaint but often that’s what they need. Understanding acupuncture theory is helpful for your comfort and security during the treatment. When you understand that treatment might include a point on the leg or foot for a symptom on the head you will enjoy your treatment and benefit more from it since you can relax in confidence.

You might come in for treatment of a sore shoulder, somehow it was injured and now it hurts whenever you move a certain way, maybe it aches, maybe you can’t pick up the bag of groceries with that arm since the injury. You may have had x-rays, gone to physical therapy, it may have been months since the injury, now you are trying acupuncture.

The acupuncturist asks some funny questions like, how are your bowel movements? (and you think, what has that got to do with my shoulder?) To make a correct Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis she needs to know things you might not think are related to your problem. She might ask if you prefer warm or cold drinks? Or what time of day does a symptom occur? Then she will probably ask you to show her your tongue and checks your pulse.

For a musculoskeletal problem some acupuncturists will evaluate your range of motion, they may touch or press into the muscles or the joint, ask you to point to the exact location of the pain, ask what makes it better or worse, read the x-rays, lab results and reports from other treatment providers that you brought of with you. Others will just select points they know will help that problem.

The acupuncturist may then use what is called dry needling to loosen the knots in the muscles and bring blood flow to the area. Some physicians in the past had experimented with injecting numbing solutions or saline into muscle spasm for relief but then discovered that even without the injection the spasm could be relieved and they eventually began using the solid core needles used in acupuncture.

Acupuncturists have been doing this for a long time, those sore spots or knots are called Aschi points in Chinese, like “Ow!” in English. When stimulated by acupuncture those spots soften up and relax and stop hurting. Acupuncture brings circulation to the spot that was so tight it hadn’t been getting any Qi or Blood flow to it and that had caused pain and loss of function.

But then the acupuncturist may also use other points elsewhere in the body that have been known for hundreds of years to help with your specific complaint but are nowhere near the site of the injury. These are points related to your condition by various acupuncture treatment theories.

Your acupuncturist might use points on channels that actually flow through the area. She might use points that are known to refer to the area. She might use points that are known to treat the type of problem you have. She might use points that address some aspect of the problem other than location. She might use points that are part of a microsystem that affects the location or type of problem but is not anywhere near the site, for instance they might stimulate points in the ear to help with your shoulder. She might use points that treat the imbalance that led up to the problem or that keeps the injury from resolving. The points are chosen to work together to provide the best outcome for your individual constitution and complaint. Sometimes the collection of points used is a classic prescription that has been known for hundreds of years.

A helpful aspect of acupuncture is that whatever the points used our bodies will often sort out what is needed and use that and discard the effects from the rest. This is easily done because we are working with Qi here.

Qi is the electromagnetic energy that makes up matter, that animates living beings, that is the motive force powering all the functions of our bodies from cellular to system levels. Stimulating acupoints has the effect that is needed most at that point to rebalance the whole being.

We talk about Qi as if there were different kinds because it does so many things, but that is just to make it easy to talk about. Acupuncture influences the different functions of Qi just like you might be asked to do different things in your different roles. Your acupuncturist can choose points that stimulate the Qi to help your digestion just like you might move funds from a savings account into checking. Or your acupuncturist can choose acupoints that stimulate Qi to calm the spirit (shen) to help you relax and sleep better just like you might water the garden when it hasn’t rained for a while.

Different acupoints do different things, they impact the location they are part of but they also impact the functions they are involved with. Like you, they live in a certain town (acupoint Wei Zhong is behind the knee) on a certain street (on Urinary Bladder channel) but they work for a business (is the command point of the lumbar region) and volunteer (this point releases heat and relieves skin issues and works locally for knee pain too) and like to roller skate (improves bending and stretching) and have a family (is related to the element water) and are connected to other places by relatives, friends and associates (the channel goes from the eye through the brain, to your little toe and does a lot of different things along the way.)

Different channels do different things too. Channels or meridians are the paths the Qi takes as it moves through the body. As Italians are known for their cooking and art, the Liver channel is known for its influence on Blood and the nervous system as well as metabolism. As the French are known for their wines, the Lung channel is known for its influence on Qi and skin as well as respiration.

When acupuncturists use familiar terms like “Blood” or “Liver” or “Deficient” or “Phlegm”, they are not talking about quite the same thing that we are used to, those terms were just the closest translation early practitioners could use to communicate about the medicine with. In Traditional Oriental Medicine those terms refer to a broader or different scope of functions than they do in allopathic medicine.

There are different ways to approach the same problem that work just as well others. You can figure out that ten tens is one hundred by multiplying, by adding, by counting, by arranging the quantities in a pattern or by moving beads on an abacus. Acupuncturists have a variety of ways of solving problems as well.

Beside its relationship with blood and the nervous system, the Liver is associated with the element Wood, and the color Green, and the season Spring, and the taste Sour. All the points on the Liver channel have some relationship with different aspects of these associations. And each channel relates to the other channels in different ways. This acupuncture theory will help your practitioner decide what points or channels to work with for your unique system.

Your acupuncturist may use points that harmonize or awaken spiritual dimensions to aid in healing. Psycho-emotional aspects of the medicine work as well, for instance if your shoulder hurts you may be shouldering a burden that is hard to bear and emotional release may come from acupuncture. Through acupuncture practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine can access different levels of our being, the Qi, Shen and Jing that are roughly the musculo - skeletal, energetic and organ functions or the body as well as the psycho emotional, constitutional and even spiritual parts of us. This isn’t merely placebo effect or magic but it often seems magical.

The acupuncturist is not limited to stimulating acupoints with a metal filament either. Acupressure, massage, moxibustion, essential oils, medicinal herbs, herbal extracts, cupping, guasha, electrical stimulation, diet, exercise and meditation are other common tools of the trade. Some are really interested in teaching you about your health and how to improve or maintain it, others will treat your chief complaint, root and branch, and only talk to you about lifestyle if you ask them.

Acupuncture has been practiced for hundreds of years all over Asia, so different variations of acupuncture theory have developed and every practitioner brings their own personality and style to the practice. Ask your acupuncturist to describe what sets them apart from other practitioners and don’t be surprised if the answer is both poetic and scientific.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ain't it the truth, jack london

" Aftttttttter all, the mishaps are almost the best part of small-boat sailing. Looking back at this, they prove to be punctuations of joy. At the time they try your mettle and your vocabulary, and may make you so pessimistic as to believe that God has a grudge against you — but afterward, ah, afterward, with what pleasure you remember them and with what gusto do you relate them." Published in Yachting Monthly 1912.)



Ok, so...no big loss right?  We each have to realize that we are responsible for our own health and well being and that begins with discernment. Discernment is gained through meditation, sit down and shut up so you can hear what it is that makes you really happy, that makes your body healthy, that satisfies your Needs, not your wants. We each will come to recognize that we are of the nature to die, we are of the nature to get sick, we are of the nature to have pain but that we can choose whether any of this causes us to suffer or not.

The Buddha smiled on care, permitted medicinals, and repair and restoration that was reasonable and individualized. But he taught us how to suffer less by dropping our stories, our opinions, our delusions. All of us would like to prevent illness, especially if it didn't mean giving up things we like, but that seldom is the case. So we make choices and then live with the consequences. We can make the choice to cultivate happiness through generosity compassion and wisdom, this is not an easy thing to do but it is simple, it just takes persistence. This is our best defense against disease, because we will all die, but we can live with joy and awe and benefit all beings while we do.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lost in Space...

That is how I usually feel when considering other monastics. We have a temple dog, she was and is a great guard dog but presently we live in a place that doesn't require one so much, that may change of course. But we are glad she is part of the team. She is a people lover, and very dog friendly too, an all round brilliant and beautiful creature. Our landlord has been remarking that she is a full time job, possibly because we go for walks a couple times per day, that hardly qualifies as full time IMHO, but whatever. She is a source of pleasure and enjoyment and amusement that I cherish.

I wish that were the experience I had with other monastics. Venerable has had more contact with others and is quite disappointed in them leading her to be what seems like protective to me. Like these little dogs -terriers that we meet on our walks. They are ferocious in their guardianship of their humans. She protects me from them because they have shunned, obstructed and slandered us. She is very perceptive and able to see through much of what I who am gullible to a fault, would overlook.

Apparently there is a mass of conservative Buddhists out there who manipulate and deceive and vie for support and control of the Sangha, who are avoided by friendly monastics but who have caused schism and who shun us. These monastics have slandered us and gossiped and spread innuendo about us and others until the entire Sangha is disintegrated like solutes collapsing out of solution. No one speaks out and no one speaks to one another because of the back stabbing and lying that goes on. It is appalling, and sad.

Our entire system- the semi organized religion of Buddhism is set up to remain passive and separate during this sort of division, to give them enough rope that they might either hang themselves or make a tree swing and become friendly on their own again. Meanwhile time passes and opportunity for communion is lost.

Venerable says we are unique in our practice and our true Sangha consists of those who have gone before that are no longer visible but whom we know through their writings and recordings. Ours is a solitary path but at least we have each other, at least we stand out as an alternative to the conservatives. And we have our brilliant friends who may or may not identify as Buddhist but are on the path of practice and actually are better at it than I am most of the time.

Ok, back to the books, I am studying but keep returning to contemplation of other things.

Too Much Information…

Is that what people say when someone reveals something that is considered too personal or taboo to speak of in the culture? I like to investigate taboos and I believe very deeply that not being frank allows misunderstandings to fester. When a common natural function like sex carries so much cultural baggage it becomes hazardous to health and safety, it’s better to air things out than keep them in the closet. When private becomes public it is less threatening and less apt to provoke judgment, hatred and fear.

This is an opportunity for me to clarify some misconceptions I have heard reported about the vow of chastity for Buddhist monastics. We take it very seriously, sexual misconduct is one of the five disrobing offenses and what that constitutes is spelled out in detail in the texts. That discussion is not the purpose of this article. This article is about what it means to me to be celibate in this day and age in western culture.

It is a common belief that those who choose to become celibate have a problem with either sexuality or relationships. If insight into the drawbacks of either is a problem then this is correct. This leads to some frequently asked questions:

What could be the drawbacks that would lead someone to give up such an integral part of human existence? Why would anyone care if others choose to be celibate? Is celibacy harmful? Does a vow of celibacy drive people to become rapists or pedophiles? Why do many religions or spiritual quests require celibacy? Is sexual repression the inevitable result of celibacy? What are the benefits of celibacy? Can you still have meaningful relationships if you are celibate? Do Buddhists have a problem with “particular friendships?”

What could be the drawbacks that would lead someone to give up such an integral part of human existence? Historically sex has lead to pregnancy for heterosexuals, unless desired and prepared for this is a major drawback. In this day and age that is not such a problem but still occurs unexpected or unwanted. That’s the most obvious drawback. But let’s dig a little deeper. Like a drug sex can be addictive, it alters the neurohormonal chemistry of the body, it brings short term pleasure and relief of pain, it affects the physical, emotional and spiritual levels of being so can be transformative and help us to mature and become wiser and more loving beings. It is how we can relate on a very deep personal level to others and express ourselves and be creative and have fun. Why would that be a problem? It is not necessarily but if you want to do more with your life, if you want to deepen your investigation into the spiritual side of being and develop talents in that realm then the time and energy of the passion you have alway brought to sex is needed for this other pursuit.
Why would anyone care if others choose to be celibate? Some people seem to think that deviation from the norm attacks the cohesion of the community. Others see themselves being asked to make the same choice and feel threatened by that. Is that because they are so deeply judgemental that they fear being judged themselves? Many believe that choice should not be an option in our culture because sex is power to them and the choice of celibacy takes away that power.

Is celibacy harmful? Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes sexuality as a normal life function, too much or too little can indeed cause imbalance leading to disease. Excess or deficient libido are symptoms of disorders that can be corrected or adjusted as desired through lifestyle, diet, herbs and acupuncture. Harm occurs when restraint is unwanted and undesired and resisted, the struggle that then ensues causes stagnation and heat which lead to problems. When restraint is appreciated and applied in a nurturing manner it does not cause harm but enables pleasure in living and tranquility.

Does a vow of celibacy drive people to become rapists or pedophiles? The vast majority of rapists and pedophiles are men who have not taken a vow of celibacy. Those who have and then broke their vow did not do so because of the vow but because of the delusion that satisfaction could be obtained through acting out their anger/hatred or greed/lust.

Why do many religions or spiritual quests require celibacy? Did you ever see that episode of ‘Malcom in the Middle’ where Lois was on some medication that kept them from having sex for a week or two? The yard was mowed, the fence mended, the house painted...All that energy and time and care which had been applied to sex went into other areas of their life for that week. That is the obvious reason. Let’s dig a little deeper. What do we bring to sex? Creativity, affection, delight, appreciation, consideration, desire, energy, joy...what if those were applied to our spiritual pursuit, wouldn’t that benefit that dimension of life tremendously? This is a positive way to consider the benefits of celibacy.

Is sexual repression the inevitable result of celibacy? No, absolutely not except as the result of  misunderstanding from closed door policies that restrict discussion of the subject. Repression is harmful, it causes rebellion and resistance that turn to stagnation and retention of heat or deep cold that kills the life force or blocks Qi. Rather these same impulses which are a natural and wonderful part of life for many people can be consciously sent in other directions.

What are the benefits of celibacy? If your intention is from now on to cause no further harm, to act in ways that benefit all beings and to attain liberation, celibacy is really essential because of the reapportionment of energy and creativity. If you are a spiritual person who has met the deity(s) or traveled in higher realms the energy and creativity retained through celibacy are really essential to continue that level of interaction. If you enjoy living without the drain of entanglements celibacy is an obvious requirement. If you choose to live consciously, to make choices with deliberate intent, to be utterly responsible for your actions and well being then celibacy is clearly a wise course, but it is not inflexible, it can be temporary. If it were not then how could it be so vital?

No such vow can ever be set in stone without harm, it is a living thing. When it is wanted it lives, if it is no longer wanted it can be released. Some do give back their vows. Currently for me this living being, which can be known as a vow of celibacy, is my friend and is a being of such beauty I could never harm it. It is a connection to perceptions of such vast expanses of wonder and awe I cannot imagine giving it up. I cherish it, and I think that is what the Buddha intended.

Can you still have meaningful relationships if you are celibate? Of course! The Buddha taught that the antidote to all five hindrances is a Noble Friend. He taught that noble friendship is not half the spiritual life but all of it. If we find a noble friend we are not to let them go, and it is our obligation to be a noble friend to all whom we meet. There is no better or more worthwhile relationship than that of noble friend. What is a Noble Friend? Someone who encourages you on the path and does not enable your failures, does not blame or judge but shows you by example how to further your practice. Someone who shares the path with you, who tames trains guards and restrains their own mind so that you are not harmed but bettered by their association. That person is a keeper. I am fortunate beyond belief to have a Noble Friend in venerable KC Daikai Madika WarEagle, bhikkhuni, and I try to be so to her as well.

Do Buddhists have a problem with “particular friendships?” Yes and no. Although Buddhism is relatively informal it remains an organized religion in some circles and in some locations and cultures or denominations the taboo against “particular friendship” holds, at least by report. But those may be in the minority, there has never been a poll that I know of. Buddhists tend to be well educated and more well to do and that sector generally is more liberal. What is a particular friendship? This term was used especially by the Catholics to support homophobia within their own community. It refers to close personal relationships that may or may not have a sexual aspect and has been a euphemism for partner or lover. Some Buddhists are rabid homophobes, some are closet queers, others are ‘out and proud’ and others have left these concerns behind.

When I was expecting to join the ordination ceremony conducted in southern California four years ago Venerable was acting in the capacity of preceptor and guide for me. The questions asked of her were what she considered inappropriate. They were clearly seeking confirmation of gossip and slander and were directed toward our past long before either of us took refuge.
I feel sorry for those who are incapable of seeing others in the light of generosity compassion and wisdom but they teach by their example and because of them I try harder, so I am grateful.

This has been a great weight to get off my chest. It has not been easy until the last few years to have given up such a facet of life especially at such a time in my life, I am just fifty two. It might be better for people who are older, as traditionally done in India, to go forth after their children are grown but I lucked into it and chose to make the best of it.

I would like to see this lifestyle be a popular option for people in the west, whether temporary or ever renewing. I fear that many make it difficult especially for women by falling into bad habits and holding disciplines to do with the robes and eating above honest introspection, and by finding loopholes in the guidelines rather than embracing the vulnerability of the pursuit of wisdom.

There are two great things about Buddhism that make all this a relatively small concern, they are that we are not an organized religion, and that we each are responsible only for our self, our own actions and our own practice. No one but us in this realm knows what is in our heart or can be a judge of that. They may try, they may think they can but they are then not minding their own ball. We can only offer them the compassion and generosity we would like to see from them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

extracurricular education

Have often thought in the nearly two years that I have been at school that I am learning more outside the curriculum than within, actually it is about equal amounts. Recently that extra curricular subject has been how fluid we are, how much we change, how often our bodies/minds/spirits change and how much it all changes.

Dr Wang, an amazing physician from China with 35 plus years of experience taught us that most clearly the other night in clinic. Thank goodness, it has been assumed, skirted around, behind the scenes, ever present, like the water a fish lives in, but until Thursday night it has never come to my senses as clearly.

There is no one formula, no one treatment, because we are ever changing. The formulas should follow us like a dinghy hauled behind a boat. As we move into different waters so should they. When the tide goes out the treatment needs to reflect that, and so on.

Yes, this is common sense. But often it is nice to have common sense aired out, brought to our attention and enjoyed.

Bernie Krause

for a short invigorating interlude in your day check out this TED Talk by Bernie Krause:

My mother reminded me of his work today - I think I posted it previously but if so here it is again, recording the voice of ecosystems to measure their health and to help us restore them when needed.

Another cheerful link is about the Wolves of Chernobyl on YouTube:

The howling at the beginning of the video sounds more like the coyotes of Athens county to me, but have never heard real wolves in the wild, maybe someday.

Be of Good Cheer! as mom would say.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

updates to website

just a few tweaks but also added 'Instructions for Meditation' as written for class at Arts West a couple years back. This is found under recommended reading or the bio blurb for me on the "about the sangha" page. Will post that here as well to the right under pages.

ten day retreat

When? Saturday, Sept 13-Tuesday, September 23 in 3 hour blocks: 9-12, 1-4, 6-9
Where? Room D Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine
How? Silent seated meditation or Quiet moving meditation - The perfect setting is not necessary for perfect meditation, perfect meditation is within afterall, but for these 3 hour blocks of time we will not be asked to do anything other than silent meditation in the form we each choose.
Why? This is over a break between quarters and the room is available. Meditation has numerous benefits and is both transformative and healing.
Who?  Kalyana has offered to conduct the retreat, and Yun Kim our CEO with Jaques Moramarco the Dean have offered the space for students and staff, friends and family of the Emperor's community.
Kalyana is an ordained Buddhist with roots in Zen and Theravada - www.greatdetermination.com, who began with TM trancendental meditation at age ten, took refuge in 2005 with Venerable Shoken Winecoff, and took novice ordination in 2008 with Venerable Dr. Karuna Dharma and fully ordained in 2012 with Venerable Daikai Madika WarEagle, bhikkhuni.
How much?The retreat is Free but Donations are encouraged to support the Learning Garden where many traditional oriental medicinal plants are lovingly cultivated and maintained so that we can interact with them in a natural living state of being. Donations can be monetary - this will go toward tools, material, seed or stock, or time spent actually weeding and watering.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Physics and Buddha Dhamma

"Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret to success."
~Savas Dimopoulos

this just grabbed me while watching "Particle Fever" on netflix, a little diversion post midterms. Truly intersects with the Dhamma at this point, how fortunate we are to have such diverse experiences magnified and shared in media today.

and another quote from him:

"It's astonishing that there are any laws of nature at all, that they are describable by mathematics, that mathematics is a tool that humans can understand, that the laws of nature can be written on a page, it's the greatest of all mysteries.

How wondrous that that "sweet spot" found in meditation, the utter and impossibly perfect balance point felt at the arrival of bliss could be the pivot between super symmetry and multiverse theories, that dynamic tension that creates life can be detected within and without, with sensory experience and with logical mathematics. I knew math could be fun, I just never made it that far. Maybe someday educators will skip the blah blah and go right to the AHAA!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Proactive Practice

Here is another example of the practice that overlaps with common sense and pop psychology - went to the school's Town Hall meeting today (I used to love town hall meetings when I was a kid in Vermont.) I had some down and dirty ideas of improvements I would like to see but foremost I wanted to thank the Dean for hunting down, capturing and retaining such outstanding professors. From what I have heard that is a pretty good description of the process. I got to do that as well as to compliment the CEO on the financial aid officer. I shared my enthusiasm for the new concentrations programs they are offering this fall and asked for more information and the opportunity to meet the professors involved.

This is the practice. That's it, I am not just a nice guy this is what I DO as part of Buddhist practice. That doesn't make it phony, on the contrary- it is revolutionary. A fellow student complained about the lighting in the clinic, which is fine, that's on the level of the lack of TP in the women's bathroom which I might have mentioned. But I believe we as practitioners of the Buddha Dhamma must look at the bigger picture, and give the meta view our metta view. The little things will always come and go. The bigger things like the impact of our practice on others, the ripple effect, are what we should be concerned with. So my intention was to encourage and applaud the good, the noble and the beneficial. This supports the direction I hope to see the world take. It supports my intention to "save all beings." And maybe it makes those attending the meeting feel a little better about their jobs, their day, their intentions. So our "oneness" is reinforced. It is not such a little thing when looked at this way.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Practice Practice

I went out the door to the courtyard to brush the dog then reached for the broom to sweep and couldn't find it. Because David Partovi the landlord had taken my garden tools and bucket before and is currently on scene, I looked toward the construction site at the gate. There was a cheap broom with black bristles in the pile of tools. Its bristles bent and curled, but ours had had black bristles and was similar, so I picked it up and gestured it toward him saying "This is our broom? This is our broom from the corner beside our door?" He said "ok, take it back then."

I did put it back, though it is damaged if it is the same broom. I realized I should have asked if they or he had taken the broom instead of trying to confirm my assumption that he had appropriated our broom. I thought about how I could prove the things stored by our doorway are ours and took pictures, still irritated I took pictures of the leaves and stuff piled up outside the doorway to Julian's room beside our entrance. I am bothered by it but he must not be.

I thought "Why does he think it is ok to use our stuff, and wreck it?" I held my middle finger to calm the anger and repeated compassion mantras. I worked to change my attitude: "We have the nicest neighbors, we have the best landlord." Then was able to admit a broom from the dollar store is not so important. I called Sensei for a brush down. This is a technique using intention and movement that smooths the Qi. It is usually done in person but can be just visualized from a distance.

Now I am writing this for the blog to share something as we often discuss in our sangha meetings. How did I do? I would give it a 'C'. Maybe a C+ because some preparation had impacted the event. I didn't  clear the hurdles before running the course but didn't trip over them either. I over reacted but recognized it and calmed quickly.  Maybe this sounds more like some one in therapy or anger management than on a spiritual path but our contention is that these are the same, only the intention is different. My intention is to do no harm, to do great good and to make the world a better place.

Moment by moment the challenges arise, there is this and then there are also the hummingbirds who peep at the window when the feeder needs to be refilled and hover by my head when I hang it back up. At this time in this life the extremes are not so extreme. I am glad to appreciate the little things and grateful for relative safety.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Minor updates to website accomplished

have fixed some of the glitches on the website, it's like herding cats but even that can be accomplished - open a can of tuna for instance and see what happens!

Added link to Sutta Central here. It is a valuable resource for those interested in recorded Dhamma, but heavy wading for the average reader. For tips on practical application of the Buddha Dhamma read Sensei's book "The Missing Peace."