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

Friday, December 25, 2015


I have been listening to a lot of Abraham Hicks lately...this morning I woke thinking of chin-ups, and building another wall in the desert- nothing metaphorical- the actual filling the wheelbarrow, moving the dirt, filling the bags, tamping the bags, over and over again. I began to feel the strength I get from that, the uplifting and the lyrics came to me: "When you are lost you can call and we will find you, time after time." The virtue of being in the moment, being in this body, being one with source, appreciating the beauty I can see, source loves that. I love that. I think we all have a pattern in every cell that is our link to source, our essential way of being, and we can each find our way to back to that even after it seems lost, after it seems we have chased it away for good, we can still find it. Reminds me of the Xtian verse: thou shalt not take my name in vain - a promise, not a prohibition. Ask and you will receive. When you are lost you can call and we will find you, time after time. What a lovely thing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

one month later

the relief and then the buoyancy of disrobing have been pleasant. Not too surprisingly the spiritual aspects of life have lifted up and bobbed about happily since the cloud of religion has vanished. I am blessed to be among quite spiritual, kind and insightful people at Emperor's College - who are not ordained, and they are inspiring. There is no one standing at the gate to enlightenment demanding ordination papers for admission - and I am attaining more light by having released the resistance created by the robes and their association with non helpful thoughts. Ah, the sweet fresh air of non association!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

power from within

This sounds a lot like some affected or disconnected rambling but I hope to record some heartfelt thoughts about disrobing. Power - the power to live, to be authentic, to fulfill the personal direction and path we all come into being to fulfill, that comes from inside the other side, the dimension/realm within. When one side of the skin takes more energy than the other there is imbalance. I have carried too much weight for too long on one side of the skin - without sustenance it drained me until I can carry it no more - so I have set the dhamma shield aside. Little wisp of fabric was sooo heavy. There needs to be a team to help carry it, this realm does not have that, rather than struggling with it anymore I let it go. Now I wander free without that shield between me and the world. It's just me now. It is such a relief. I felt for so long like I was trying to breath thru a straw at the bottom of a pond. Sensei is amazingly strong and like her first buddhist name- Jusan, is a mountain. I can't keep that up anymore. I needed a bigger ordained community to sustain the ordination, and didn't find one that was beneficial in a direct way. The ordained Sangha offered more of a backhanded benefit whenever I could come into contact with them, more of an example of what not to do. I can't sustain something that won't sustain me, anymore. It has been over ten years since I began my journey into Buddhism. I found two treasures, but the third eludes me, at least the ideal does - if there is a nurturing spiritual Buddhist community I was not able to find it. I felt like Sensei and I were shunned and like stray dogs we starved on the fringes of the community. There were no kind people in that village who would welcome us.  It is much easier to shake off the dust of that town and leave. I remain Sensei's Noble Friend and companion, member of Great Determination Buddhist Sangha, a contemplative and respectful student of the Buddha and explorer of the Dhamma. Sensei remains an ordained Bhikkhuni and stalwart mystic.

This may be only temporary. I need a break and can take one freely. The silver lining of being rejected by the fundamentalists is not having any need for their approval or permission. We stand on the outside and are now delighted by having wept at the doors never having them opened in pity, today realizing it was like weeping to be let into the Alamo or 1984 and not being allowed in. I acknowledge it is a thought experiment like self hypnosis, it allows me to free up stagnant Qi. It's all in my own mind anyway - like Eleanor Roosevelt said: "You wouldn't worry so much about what other folk thought if you realized how seldom they did." No one cares, and that is great, no one should, we really are dreaming alone, the trick is to realize that and figure out what that means we can do and what 'we' really means. Very woowoo, Kim, very woowoo.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

traumatic events reaction and review

When a great many are injured or killed there is a mass reaction in pack mentality, when one is personally attacked and hurt there is more likely to be that split second of quietude to consider - what all is going on. Pauley Perrette recently showed us an enlightened reaction to pain and fear - even in the midst of an assault she had the presence of mind to view her attacker as a human being, to relate to him as a person. If we could do that for the mass attacks as well we could stop the violence of imperialism and rebellion. Turning the other cheek is a very deep teaching that is so seldom embraced, it is frightening, and vulnerable, to not respond with like minded aggression. But this is what the Buddha taught in so many ways, it is the essence of Dhamma, the practice of letting go. The path to that is often compassion meditation, but it can come about in many ways. Embracing emptiness and holding to the four brahma viharas is effective, but in a more prosaic vein keep your eyes in your own ballpark. If we get caught up in stories from other lives we are not tending our own gardens and they will benefit no one. If we spread ripples of kindness here and now, we make more difference than we know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

God is in the Neurons revisited

This wonderful video is still on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2baCg8SHGM
and is worth seeing again. We are gradually changing our paradigm, and what a joy it is.

Monday, October 26, 2015


I was reading an article about the benefits of ritual in daily life and started to discuss it with Sensei. She said for her, being raised as she was - a preacher’s kid, every day and every moment is spiritual and she recalls the many discussions she had with her father and many other spiritual leaders about the division between the mundane and the spiritual. For her there is no need for ritual, everyday acts are rituals. Putting on her socks and shoes is a ritual.

That level of mindfulness is likely why I am with her. I want that level of attentiveness to daily life. That is very exciting and uplifting to me. I don’t get there but a few minutes every day. That feels like all I can handle - all I have the energy for. But how invigorating and powerful that is. Those few moments are the time I live for, what I spend the rest of the day gathering energy for. Gathering energy thru the persistent repetition of the practice, by coming back to the breath, to mindfulness, by substitution of a kind thought for a mean one, by dropping the train of thinking, by recalling the wisdom of the Dhamma.

If another tool is a ritual I can use that too. Sensei avoids traditional ritual because it is abused and even detrimental at times, but I like structure like that. Getting up and walking the dog in the morning is a ritual for me. I am a committed member of the Church of Dog. Doing a qigong routine before a test or giving an acupuncture treatment could be considered a ritual. But I never think of those as rituals because both are terrific exercises not empty wishes. I guess I have to rethink ritual and see traditional rituals as more than rote prescriptions. They could have a deeper impact.

OTOH, as Sensei says they didn't work for her family at all. Sitting down to family dinners? Did that, but didn't get the benefits they were supposed to bring. Prayer before and reading a passage after was a very ritualized part of her childhood but certainly didn't have the effects described in the article. This is why I love Sensei so much. Her critical thinking skills - she sees right into the matter at hand. So ritual is fine - but don't make a big deal of it. As soon as it becomes necessary it is toxic.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

confusion is clear

"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes.  Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes." ~Alan Watts

That sounds so appealing (no pun intended) it is no wonder confusion abounds. Sensei teaches us to watch the mind while peeling potatoes or anything else we are doing - right now even, what is the mind doing, is it just reading or is it also distracted by other things, does it maintain a story/sensation of pleasure, irritation, sadness or a to-do-list? Can you feel the effort of that?

For Sensei's students we know that just peeling the potatoes means being aware of what the mind is doing while we go about the activities of daily living. This provides us a seatbelt of sorts when the unexpected arises, we already have the practice of awareness so we can make a choice of how we would like to respond to events, of how we interact with life. 

Then the sensory perception of what it is like peeling potatoes can be enjoyed and relished for the miracles it represents without grasping or holding onto the experience. Life becomes a series of adventures.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Benefits of Tai Chi Chu'an

Tai Chi Chuan Benefits
Final paper for Sun Style Tai Chi with Dr Jacques MoraMarco
by Cleo Wolf

Numerous studies have been done to assess the impact of the practice of Tai Chi Chuan on health, because the practitioners of the art have acclaimed it for benefiting their own well being in diverse areas of their lives. These studies present a massive body of statistical evidence supporting the claims of practitioners of Tai Chi that it really makes a difference in their well being. Mark Twain said of statistics, “Lies and more damn lies.” Our own dear Dr Thornton teaches us the fallibility of statistical evidence in even highly respected randomized clinical trials. I do not look to statistics and studies to evaluate a practice for health. The Fully Self Awakened One, the Buddha taught, “If something is presented as beneficial, try it and see for yourself.”

However, because the directions were to research articles and studies proving the benefits of Tai Chi, I did look some up. In the following very comprehensive recent article from the Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 3, Issue 1, March 2014, Pages 3–8, Special issue on "Tai Chi Chuan: From traditional applications to contemporary practice"  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254613000999  the authors review more than thirty studies showing the benefits of Tai Chi Chuan practice to all aspects of life from cardiovascular disease to T cell immunity.

Additionally, regarding this a study was conducted of thirty cardiac patients with ejection fractions less than 40% by western medical professionals from Harvard and Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center: Enhancement of sleep stability with Tai Chi exercise in chronic heart failure: Preliminary findings using an ECG-based spectrogram method;  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3281294/ published in 2007.

I have been taught that those who live long enough will likely develop some degree of congestive heart failure. The heart muscle weakens, becomes enlarged, the contractile force diminishes, and then there is experienced fatigue, respiratory distress, edema, discomfort and less restful sleep.

These people were given a 12 week course in Yang style Tai Chi. Eighteen of the participants made it thru the exclusionary criteria to provide data. The effect of Tai Chi practice was evaluated by a standard and respected questionnaire, heart rhythm evaluation and blood work.

The measurements spanned heart and lung function, endocrine levels as well as subjective experience. The study was carefully crafted. The data obtained was thoroughly presented in written and graphic format.

The conclusion was that Tai Chi may be effective at improving sleep in those with heart failure. So even the very aged and infirm will benefit from learning and practicing Tai Chi Chuan. The authors went on to suggest that improved sleep may lead to improvement in other areas of health and life. To extrapolate the benefits of Tai Chi to healthy people or those with other disease processes is only natural to those who are inclined to think highly of it anyway.

Studies set the bar outside our own experience, they may obtain recognition and sometimes lead to further employment for the conductors. However the information gathered is never entirely without bias and does not indicate with any certainty the experience a given individual will have. They also fail to identify variables that may impact the results of the study one way or the other. For instance in the above study the individuals were given a class, therefore there was a social aspect to the practice that was not given weight, but do we need to know whether Tai Chi Chuan would have had the same impact if learned from a video or some other means? Everyone of us has different needs and the site, timing, socialization, color of the sky all may have had different impacts on each one of the participants. We can most easily try it for ourselves and discover if we like it, it is the discernment of preference versus true benefit or harm that we should develop to ascertain whether something is of value. This discernment is obtained gradually by persistently following the Noble Eightfold Path. But most people are not interested in doing this deliberately, and some of them may be interested in what studies have to say.

Science as a business and the media encourage the public to rely on studies rather than their own gut feelings or intuition. In the recent past self awareness was shunned as a means of decision making, favoring so called scientific evidence, elevating science over discernment. Perhaps today discernment is regaining acceptance in public opinion to a mild degree since there is a vocal, educated, and passionate minority of the population who recognize its value. Because the world is in a phase where exposure to non patriarchal belief systems is becoming more widespread more people rely on their own assessments than outside expert opinion. Meditation and mindfulness are only two means of strengthening discernment, there are many others, Tai chi itself is one.

Studies have been and continue to be used as marketing tools. This marketing works best on those with just enough education and money to make them feel familiar with the places, people and language surrounding the studies. Above and below that class the conclusions of any given study are suspect and irrelevant. Even we as medical practitioners must beware that the preponderance of evidence is of little value without proper application. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our patients to avoid becoming bags of hot air, spouting meaningless statistics. Instead we can each practice and investigate on our own to find what works best for us and makes us better people. This is more easily done when not focused on research or numbers.

Speaking for myself, I feel an increased enjoyment of waking and walking in the morning. I am more flexible, more physically and mentally competent, more in my body, more content with this life as a spiritual practice and so healthier. I have better energy, not only more in quantity but more cohesive in quality, I feel vibrant and I enjoy living. What has that to do with Sun style Tai Chi Chuan or Yi Jin jing? I do not know, but I know that the other day over a week ago I hesitated to commit to practicing that day and the answer came quite clearly - this is what is making me feel better, this is improving my health more than herbs or acupuncture - though I enjoy those too. The slow pace in rhythm with breathing is not only relaxing and natural, it improves mindfulness. The ebb and flow of the movements produces a pleasant sensation of pumping - moving matter and energy. The centeredness that results contributes to a sense that renewal is occurring and the mind is more open, welcoming and happy. I expect to continue to use the practice daily and as often as possible throughout the day and to continue to experience more and more benefit from it.

Statistics would never convince me to try a practice like they might influence my choice of car or toothbrush but seeing someone moving deliberately and embodying peace certainly does.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lifetime Member

of the Guru of-the-Month Club, and the motto is: "If you don't believe in yourself, find someone who agrees with you and follow them." Among the texts of the pali canon I think I recall it saying find one teacher and stick with them don't shop around too much. But how much is too much? and in this day and age there are so many teachings available - I do Know for Certain that the Buddha said the Dhamma is found in all sorts of places and on many many paths - if it brings true happiness it is in keeping with the Dhamma, but no matter where you find it or who said it we must check it out for ourselves and if it works, use it, if it doesn't, then set it aside.

We would be foolish to neglect the marvelous teachers and teachings available to us, Sensei teaches us to develop discernment and critical thinking to identify what is helpful and what is not.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Best of Abraham

This teaching is a brilliant direct hit, probably the most clear and direct I have yet heard from them so very step by step down to earth practical direction shown by example in this conversation between a student and Abraham (/Esther). The moment of truth occurs at 10:28 after the longest intro from a participant I have ever seen them allow.

Again it is simple but not so easy - easy once done but sneakily sabotaged by pitfalls and snares set by Mara. I am a great fan of Madeleine L'Engle, Sheri Tepper and C.S. Lewis among others - we are the protagonists in this story, it is up to us to be the change we want to see.

It just echoes Sensei's teachings again, we must focus on and nurture and cultivate happiness, there is no reason to do otherwise. Not just for ourselves but for the Ripple Effect it creates, this is our job, our purpose, our responsibility. What a great position to be in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Message to Despair

What you think you are seeing and what you think you are hearing is actually what you are creating. Living as a human being is actually working as a creator of worlds and realms and visions and realities. Focusing on the good and the beautiful and the awe inspiring and lovely and generous and kind is not putting your head in the sand, it is raising the wonder and glory above the flood. This is not a choice, it is our job. We have a responsibility and obligation to do this, to combat the dullness, harm and rot of what Madeleine L'Engle called IT. This is how we reverse the harm we see, by focusing on the good we see. We are part of the team that changes things. Work with me.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thank You JP Sears

This guy is brilliant, this is so funny and so true and so great to refresh with humor when you've been eating the salad that is a spiritual life. Some greens are sour, some are bitter only a few are sweet. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/1kDso5ElFRg

Thursday, August 13, 2015


"The teachings are not ideas to be studied, but a path to be followed."
~Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

This is a quote from the introduction to The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by the above. Sensei recommends it, she does a lot of dream work, we can all benefit from reading it...and you know if she recommends it then it is full of direct, practical and actually useful information. The Internet Archive you will find it at in the link is really cool too. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our Job

Another student was saying to me that in Practice Management they were talking about where they would like to work after graduation, but that the state of the world is so unstable that we may not have the choices we think we do. She re-opened my eyes to the job before us.

The problems she mentioned were global warming, rising sea levels, drought, starvation, impending doom and we agreed all these were traceable to human greed. What we didn't get to finish discussing because class started was that we CAN do something about this - when we change ourselves by practicing Generosity, Compassion and Wisdom the ripples that spread out change others and in this way we can and do impact the world around us, the layers of dimensional overlap that we experience, if not all those that exist at least those we experience.

The irony is that direct action is ineffective and only by creating those ripples can we actually do something. That's my understanding of Buddhist practice anyway. Of course part of the practice is to determine how best to cultivate and implement and then actually perform with Generosity, Compassion and Wisdom but starting on the cushion and taking it with us 24/7 is the job at hand.

Thinking there is no hope is not discerning the potential hidden from us by media manipulation of information and our own fear. We need to learn about and contemplate and support all the exciting developments in tech and community that are happening around the world that the media doesn't want us to know about because how we live and spend is valuable to certain corporations. We also have to focus right here where we live on being kind and having integrity and we can count on the ripples from that having an impact we may not see but will benefit from.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Life can be a grinding masticating horror. It can also be an exciting wonderful adventure. We make that choice each and every moment.

Over the past year the awareness of other overlapping realms intersecting and interacting with our paths has been ever present.

Yesterday another concept came to the forefront - that we also have many lifetimes concurrently running and this is only one of them.

So long as we keep returning to the principles of the Eightfold Path and stay in the groove of happiness, the ripples are beneficial to all.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not Trying

This is the current challenge. Qi flows best without resistance, Dhamma practice is optimal when all resistance is minimized as well. The state of no resistance is being one with the Dao, balanced and in harmony, most of us experience this briefly from time to time, some of us are so intrigued and delighted with it that we develop a practice to nurture the potential for that to return or persist. Here is where not trying is essential, too much striving and it literally is chased away, too little and chances are we cannot even recognize it when it arrives.  Through out the Buddha Dhamma we see references to this, my favorite may be the Buddha's analogy of playing a stringed instrument - you don't want the strings too tight or too loose, they must be tuned just right for the music to resonate.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Freedom of expression

Saw two beautiful young women walking up the street holding hands obviously infatuated, and obviously new to the freedom of expression available to them - feels really good in this place/time. I believe that the work to be done when in a heaven realm is to nurture it, to strengthen it, to water and to grow with it. All the good that comes our way must be acknowledged, appreciated and enjoyed with gratitude and love. We have the opportunity to expand and ripple outward into other realms like sunlight cresting over a hill. Who wants to live without work, without meaning? This is our responsibility, to dwell in happiness and root that compassion, generosity and wisdom that develops within.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


reminded by a state of blissful contentment today that deportment should come from within, born of generosity, compassion and discernment - the three roots of happiness. This practice is a repetitive one, as practice implies. Over and over we return to understandings, touching them like loved ones - ah, this is truth, ah this is aliveness, ah this is kindness, ah this is happiness, ah this is forgiveness, ah this is compassion. A deportment born from discipline, from rigidity lacks that flowing quality of being. What a lucky nunk am I to have escaped that path, a wildflower, a feral spirit, scenting the morning air. Will this stand me in good stead when faced with grave challenges as discipline would? Who can say what the future may bring? Hoping for the best and planning for the worst I store away treasures of delight to recall in other times.

Friday, June 12, 2015

that old joke

someone told that old joke again yesterday - the "make me one with everything" hot dog joke. remember that one? Well, what if we could step up to a vendor's cart or truck and say: "I'd like to be one with everything." Or step out of the office and get a quick dose of compassion or courage or clarity, how about getting a glass of loving-kindness, a whiff of happiness, a bite of joy, a dose of humor? Why not? Do you really think that would be immoral? I think it would be wise and amazing and really really cool.

Now I would think it immoral if someone chose to purchase a cup of cruelness, or a toke of vanity, or a bag of anger. I think it would be stupid, but should they have that right? Would it be patronizing them to say that's illegal? Would we legislate that only over the age of *blank* can you purchase an emotion that could lead to harm of self or others?

In reality if we consider our past manufacturing/advertising and GREED the substances above would likely not provide the equal of true feeling and would likely result in blocked or altered sensation of our true potential, but if not, if it were possible to stimulate our own ability to feel (and it is, this is within our abilities as sentient beings) then we have in our hands such a wonderful world right? The only thing keeping us from it is attachment to "our desires." Rigid adherence to a set of "shoulds" is all that prevents us from choosing a pleasant outlook, an enjoyable feeling.

Stories of freed or enlightened beings sometimes describe them as mischievous, playful, unpredictable and highly amused. Having dropped attachment they choose what feelings they want to experience and alter them at will. This takes a lot of energy, a practice that cultivates and conserves and manages life to provide energy for being wise and will full is a full time occupation, but it pays well.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Great lines

one of the best is:
"I am one of those people that think that there is more going on that we don't understand than there is that we do."
Hey, I said it before I heard it, and have heard it over and over again from more and more people and think it more and more often. It is the best and wisest thing I can imagine, that we really have no idea what is really going on. I can live there, I do live there.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Abraham Hicks or their speaker said in one talk she likes to walk around her garden and tell the various plants "You are my favorite." A professor here at Emperor's - Dr Joseph Yang once said to another student and I "you are my favorites." I like to tell Hiro and Sensei they are my favorites, it is just an awesome phrase that generates enormous well being in all parties and the ripple effect is wonderful. When having to choose a supervisor in clinic I thought back to that comment from Dr Yang and really felt warmed by it. We were taught in childhood not to have favorites, because it means discrimination, unkindness but I have never found it that way - everyone and all things can be our favorites. Having a favorite does not exclude others it includes them by warming the heart. When I hear someone else say something else is their favorite I feel benevolent toward that thing or person too.

If there is any chance someone or thing will feel left out then extend the sensation to include others. I go around thinking you are my favorite this and you are my favorite that - it is such a fun thing to think. It opens the heart chakra and warms the channels, tonifies the qi and nourishes blood like sunshine. Being in the moment is the key to inclusion and with enough practice anyone can understand that this never excludes others. Our attention can only hold one thing at a time however swiftly so we move from favorite to favorite without diminishing the feeling or authenticity. It's a lot of fun to do.

If you want to get technical this is a Brahma Vihara Practice, metta karuna mudita upekha - loving kindness, compassion, joy with others, and equanimity are the measureless spaces, the brahma viharas that we explore in the jhannas. The benevolence of the saying connects to mudita, the joy with others and in combination with momentary mindfulness it sets us free from comparing and contrasting rather than locking us up in them.

The semantics problem is not a problem if you embrace it. Here the word favorite implies contrast on a mundane level but is all embracing on a spiritual level. That's my opinion today anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


  • v.
    To hold oneself back; forbear: refrained from swearing.
  • v.
    Archaic To restrain or hold back; curb.
  • n.
    A phrase, verse, or group of verses repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza.

    this is the third definition - and the refrain is: mean people are suffering - suffering is misery, unhappiness, pain. I have been reminding myself that when someone is mean it means they are suffering. "Misery loves company." Those who are suffering cannot see the pain they create, and cannot care, they are consumed with their own suffering, if they were happy they would see others and appreciate and enjoy the world around them.

    Often just acknowledging any emotion will dissipate its effect on the body mind, but those who are suffering are least likely to acknowledge that. The suffering takes hold and becomes a vicious circle.

    When we can disengage from our hurt we can generate compassion for ourselves and others and relieve their suffering thru forgiveness and understanding. We can stop the wheel from spinning. And why not? Clinging to suffering to pursue justice is just stupid. Clinging to suffering to seek out compassion and understanding is almost as bad. If the need for compassion and understanding is present then give them, they do not have to come from others.

    Do not tell the story, just let go and get on with life. It is best to realize that those we care about most are also the most likely to bring about our suffering - if we choose to have that happen. We can choose to acknowledge pain and let it go. We may have to do that over and over again, but that takes no more effort so why not?

    It sucks to hurt so let it go. You may be letting go of a perceived relationship but that was a fallacy of perception, nothing real, a construct of your habits, your conditioned mind, nothing more - the pain you feel and fear is absolutely one hundred percent founded on delusion. So let it go. And then return to happiness and openness and take up vulnerability again because that is the essence of flexibility, that is our true nature - movement and flexibility. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

creating heaven realms

Oscar Wilde wrote, "a map of the world that does not include utopia is not even worth glancing at." This is much like the work Sensei has been doing in creating a better world, a new realm. Awakened humans are world creators, the realms overlap one another like a stack of transparencies but of course more complicated with infinite and varying interconnections. We all contribute to this tremendous mass of vibrational energy. Her work recently has been imagining harmony and kindness existent right now and I have seen results which inspire and warm the heart. It is fascinating to me that by letting go and simply being in the practice of generosity compassion and wisdom so much can be accomplished. Wilde was truly a brilliant mind, he also wrote, "Society needs its deviants." Indeed it does, this is where creation occurs. When looked at with the higher mind so much beauty and such a depth of wonderful kindness is happening all the time all around us, but we are often sucked down into the gloom by the everyday life of society. When we step out of that abyssal darkness the light is so spectacular it is really worth the effort.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

three powers of intention

Three powers of intention denied would be "you live in a fantasy world; visualization is closing your eyes and seeing what you want to see; drawings should look the same to everyone". These are errors in thinking that are instilled in us early on in life to keep us from roaming too far in our imaginations. To prevent us from developing as the potent world creators we are meant to be.

Instead, the Three Powers of Intention are: we choose what to perceive, we can imagine things without seeing them, and what ever you draw is just as it should be. If everyone looks at a drawing of a horse and sees the same horse it is not the horse you perceived but the horse you learned should be there. It does not reveal your experience, it shares nothing but your learned point of view. Visualization is an error of semantics - it is not necessary to be visual for you to imagine -image - anything in your perception. What we each perceive is informed by what we expect and demand to perceive, not what is there. Survival and our limited resources prevent us from perceiving ninety nine percent of what is around us. When something is perceived by someone that does not fit theirs or others expectations it is denied, refused, forgotten. This is a failure of courage, a failure of faith in the world and in the process of life. Few people have the opportunity to develop without either being forced into the common world view or willingly and even eagerly adopting it.

As spiritual athletes we take up the challenge of repairing this. It not only feels risky it is risky. We risk our connection to the common which establishes sanity. We risk isolation and fear and lack of support. We are vulnerable to repeated upheavals as the lessons prepared for us turn the rock beneath our feet to sand. But once initiated it becomes a delight to pass milestones and recognize that we are on a path, and a very fulfilling journey.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

jury summons

Who woulda thought? Once upon a time I looked forward to participating in this civic duty, I thought then that there was such a thing as justice and that it was conducted in a fair and beneficial manner. Ok, so I do not think that any more but now this is further complicated or simplified (depending on your POV) by having ordained as a Buddhist nunk.

I welcome the summons as an opportunity to reflect on what it means to abide in the Dhamma  - and even writing this provides further insight. I do not abide by the Dhamma, I abide within it, I dwell within the Dhamma, in this place there is no concept of 'justice,' consequences are a natural unfolding of events.  Within the world of  Dhamma we are each responsible for our own actions, attitudes and achievements. We recognize that greed anger and delusion are problems for each and every one of us. Change, pain and loss are inevitable but suffering is optional. We don't achieve anything by punishment or retribution. Sensei likes to say "Life's not fair, now get over it."

Within the Dhamma the justice system has no place, makes no sense and in a way being asked to serve on a jury is like being asked to jump on a speeding train. I cannot quote chapter and verse prohibiting serving on a jury, there are so many that apply, but I rely on the grounded evidence that only by acting from noble intention with compassion generosity and wisdom can we create a better world. From that informed perspective we know that all beings desire happiness. We know that sometimes some of us become so hurt, so consumed with either greed anger or delusion or a combination of them that we then hurt others and our selves and the ripples that spread from that are never stilled until met by their opposites which are generosity compassion and wisdom.

That balm or healing ointment, is how suffering is ended and happiness achieved. And it is such a beautiful thing to witness. That is how our justice system works in the Dhamma. We apply the balm and the suffering stops and all the universes are suffused with love and pleasure at the creation of such beauty. Imagine if courts were gathered to bring acknowledgement and forgiveness into being. That is where I live.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Yes,, and no..."

"Yes,, and no..." These are the answer to nearly every question for me today. There is no need to deny the reality that everything is relative and that on one hand this is so and on the other hand that is so. This is called yin and yang, the sunny side and the shadow, up and down, left and right.

The very clear perception that there are realms of reality created by levels of understanding, expectations and shared intentions which overlap one another like layered transparencies has been taking shape in this body-mind for some time. It is a great portion of our Dhamma practice at Great Determination to investigate and experience a panoramic view of the universe thru this lens.

Having this understanding means being an observer, a witness of unfolding events but it does not create a cloak of invisibility. We are still in the realms we observe and take part in them and have an impact upon them, perhaps it is a law of nature that this must be so. Just because our perception and attitudes have changed does not mean that others have as well. It does mean that we are freer to investigate and comprehend the foundation of the different realms, that we are responsible for our impact there. I recall Castaneda sometimes described the shamans detachment from localization as mischievous, amused, delighted, respectful and awed.

The Dhamma is the guide to efficient, intelligent and practical management of our resources, energy and time. Purity and elimination of self refers to getting out of the way so that we sail like a boat on the sea, impelled by wind and current but empowered by being there, reveling in oneness. On the sea there are clear things that must be done, times to take in or let out sail, moments to tack or to jibe, likewise it is clear at times what we must do in daily life. We act without question and with full commitment centered on our course. The universe provides feedback just like the wind moves the tell tales on a jib and the sense of tension between keel and sail as the boat powers forward is similar to the sensation in the center of the body when fully engaged by living.

This is an enormously satisfying way of life. When participant in the realms we cannot see this, we are each and every being and warp and weft of the fabric of all the layers but we cannot see that while engaged in maintaining the shape and texture of the world we create. When we step out of that participant role we are able to enjoy so much more. But having stepped out we should not expect that others have the same point of view, indeed we should anticipate them and be proactive in response to the Dhamma which does not allow us to become inert but instead charges us with the shock of lightening and the subtlety of air.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

using the right tool for the job

we all know the three poisons - greed anger and delusion (fear) - so well, yet sometimes having the practice we believe we should be able to meditate into bliss or quietude or be mindful enough to shunt the ill effects aside. But I offer the thought that we can choose to augment the practice at will and the wisdom that has developed thru meditation can inform our choice.

So when bizarre emotions or illness or situations or stories arise that interfere with our well being then we ought to incorporate other tools. Start with the least invasive first and work up from there as needed. We all have different tools we have collected in our lifetimes. Some are effective and some are not worthwhile - I am talking about coping mechanisms as well as  newfangled techniques! What I am saying is that we should not insist on limiting ourselves to the routine of Dhamma Practice when we can include biofeedback or flower essences too. Its a big world today and our choices are more varied than ever, I embrace that.

There is a grey area, a neutral zone there though. It takes that wisdom to navigate and to remain non judgmental when non practice tools are used, especially when covetousness arises because everyone has access to the practice but not everyone has access to other tools. That's when the purity of the practice shines because it out strips the others, never the less it is not wise to rigidly insist on purity. Rigidity is inherently harmful. The climber that moves smoothly and intuitively is the most joy to watch or to be, not the one that only follows a prescribed route and method.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Noun: meaning the taste of bliss in the absence of all thought. Mmmhhhhhhmmmmm...


Noun: meaning a healthy state of mind, characterized by self control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one's true self, and resulting in true happiness. We might add: result of the practice of the Dhamma.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I was explaining to a neighbor that Sensei and I are not a couple, well maybe an odd couple, but that she is my preceptor and teacher, a requirement for bhikkhunis, and noble friend, a necessity for Buddhists.  Then this morning thinking back on that I realized that actually we had had the longest and most beneficial relationship in our lives. I realized I am somewhat resentful that life has given me broccoli rather than french fries. Extra funny because although she likes broccoli she is famous for loving fast food...

Another couple of bhikkhunis made a similar statement in a magazine article a while back. Many modern Americans do not realize that this is the normal state for many ordained Buddhists throughout time. The monasteries of catholicism are more familiar. This does happen today in Buddhism but for millenia we students of the Buddha have worked hard to create small supportive units that foster the Practice. Noble friendships are the antidote for all the Hindrances and were recommended by the Buddha to help us on the path.

We are more important to each other than spouses, far more important than earthly marriage is the partnership of Noble Friends. The Practice reaches beyond birth and death, beyond this fathom long body. It may be hard for others to understand, and confusion creates uncertainty and fear, but the benefits outweigh this risk and the ripple effect of the benefit spreads out to others.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Challenging Change

This morning news of another murder reached me and countless others. Murder by police, of an unarmed helpless non-aggressive human being. Oh wait, that's not murder - they were doing their job. A video showing the vicious attack by a group of large darkly uniformed thugs upon a couple of small and weakly struggling citizens of the united states of america. My heart breaks to see what we have come to.

Sensei has reminded me this is not new or unusual. Today she tells me to focus on the good. That we can make change only in the direction we look toward. If I continue to see hatred and fear between authorities and destitute or needy citizens I create the disharmony and nourish division.

This is not the same as not challenging injustice or addressing wrong, it is using what works to repair disharmony. It is counter intuitive, and it requires that anger be seen for the poison it is, not a source of power or energizer. Anger in fact only creates more anger, it is the parasite that feeds upon our stupidity and laughs at us for being so easy to herd.

I recall that the realms are all present together, one cake many layers. Each layer exists for a purpose and is sustained by those ingredients composing it. We traverse the boundaries of the layers and move from one to the next by focusing our attention on the attributes we imagine or perceive. We do not abandon those who are constituents of hell, we show them the way out and create the alternative, there has to be a balance.

The plan for today is to see how communities have joined together to care for their needy. How police officers and the wealthy are committed to the welfare of the community and concerned for the well being of the poor and the sick. How the strong and fit nurture and support the ill and weak because that brings security and amiability to the community. Because helping one another is a reliable way to sustain happiness and wellbeing.

I want to be effective, efficient and actually accomplish change. I am willing to appear to neglect reality and to appear to stick my head in the sand and to appear to be in the closet and to appear to turn my back on suffering in order to not keep doing what has always been done and what has still not worked. Einstein said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. This tack bears me away from the same route as the herd. I trust and respect Sensei especially when she challenges the norm and the status quo. We are here to be different. It is not different to be outraged, it is useless. I am going to do the hard thing and look for the good.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blue Blazing

on the AT there are 'purists' and there are 'blue blazers' (we won't even mention the yellow blazers). The purists feel a thru hiker must absolutely hike by absolutely every single white blaze, some even extend this to carrying their full kit by every white blaze. Others even feel it is essential to complete the trail all in one direction from beginning to end. Does that sound like the middle way to you? To me it sounds like an Ascetic Practice, which is fine if time limited - it takes 4- 6 months to complete the trail so that works, and if it is acknowledged as an extraordinary effort outside of the life time pursuit of the middle way. Difficulty arises when ascetic practices are elevated on a pedestal and used to contrast and compare self and other. The problem is the promotion of duality in perspective. When the perspective is locked into dualistic thinking it limits and hinders insight. This leads to a deviation in experiences on the path from positive to detrimental in the ripples produced. You can tell I am a blue blazer, can't you? Yup, and this follows into Buddhist Practice. As a nunk, I with Venerable Sensei, follow the middle way. We Blue Blaze.

Funny that those ordained by Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma wear blue on their sleeve in tribute to her. She was a blue blaze advocate in my opinion. A compassionate and generous nunk, unhindered by fear, she presided at grand ordination events enabling those in diverse traditions to ordain who would not otherwise have had the opportunity.

There are many parallels between long distance backpacking and the Buddha Dhamma. Like sailing, backpacking provides a physical manifestation of the practice to reinforce the understanding on an experiential level.

As Blue Blazing Nunks we are taking a different path from the herd of Bhikkhunis in America today. Sensei is helping me to become a licensed acupuncturist, a primary care provider. As a side benefit she gets to live and teach in Santa Monica. When I have graduated and am providing care I am counting on her teaching those who come to me for wellness support and treatment of disharmony or illness. Her Awakening Stillness Qigong and Living Enlightenment classes dramatically improve individual and community wellbeing and to have the potential to integrate that with traditional oriental medicine is an exciting and powerful way to change the world. Mahatma Ghandi-ji said "Be the Change You Want to See," and we are.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Karen Traviss in Grasslands: "It seemed that the more rules a religion laid down, the more precise its strictures, then the more devious its adherents felt obliged to become."

I love this, this simple take on organized religion rings true for so many. Of course Theravada Buddhism is famous (infamous?) for the number of "vows" its nunks take. And so many of us are so proud of that, is it the pride or the restrictions that cause the harm? It's not the adherence because that is rarely practiced but often cited. In truth only three guidelines matter: Heightened mind, heightened virtue and heightened discernment.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aloka Vihara

There is a lovely recent article in Tricycle Magazine that showcases the Venerables Anandabodhi and Santacitta. The beautiful photos and gentle speech paint an uplifting and inspirational portrait of modern Buddhist Nuns in America.

Stop there if you prefer to maintain a serene and pleasant state of mind.

Beyond this point I cross the threshold into a murky area where what is beneficial is unclear to me.

I admit to having a bit of a stomach ache from Sour Grapes. I do not begrudge them the limelight, they are welcome to it. The sad thing is what a powerful reminder to me this is that one should not judge a book by its cover. The article is a gorgeous book cover, quite like the magazine. But life experience has taught me critical thinking and I prefer frank discussion and transparency. I don't usually read this magazine but a friend brought it to our attention. Like a nurse, every once in a while she rips off the bandaid and airs out this wound, though we generally prefer to ignore it.

These are two of the Sangha who have shunned us and countless other women in order to secure their support and obtain the status that brings them such fine advertising. Its a dog eat dog world out there even within the Sangha. Reminds me of the childrens book about the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, the story speaks more to adults who have learned about both sides of competition and goal seeking. For me it recalls the Israelis who suffered at the hands of the Nazis only to turn around and offer such treatment to the Palestinians. Doubtless this opinion offends someone, perhaps you.

Many members of the venerable Sangha believe it is invaluable to have a polished image in the public eye. Outward appearances have been the majority of their training and consume the values instilled in them. They may be 'right' in what they do, I am sure they think so, just as I think I am right in what I do.What's a nunk doing with such a soapbox? Wasting breath really, the path is better off without such concerns.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Buddhist Nationalism is an Oxymoron


This article on Yahoo news about Myanmar aka Burma strikes us all to the heart. Why? Because people still say that Buddhism is the only religion that has never gone to war. Well, no more. These people wearing maroon robes and shaved heads cannot be Buddhist are not Buddhist are pitifully ignorant of the Buddha Dhamma. Millions of people around the world who have never heard those words are more followers of the Dhamma than these men.

Buddhism is not an organized religion, there is no pope, the DaLai Lama is not our CEO, but he is a great Buddhist leader and I am saddened by the thought of how he feels knowing this is happening in Myanmar. Perhaps the conflict there will help to consolidate the fourfold Sangha but knowing many of the european american traditional monks by their behavior that is not likely.

Thanks to all Good Hearts the Dhamma is an organic living breathing REAL motive force in the universe. There is no end to it and no beginning either so it cannot be undone, if only those who claim to be monks could see the basic teachings, they harm themselves more than anyone and yet they harm us all as they do so, we are one.

I believe there is not more outcry about this from buddhists in the media because all of us are basically struck dumb by the absolute opposition to the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha clarifying the nature of universal reality, shown by these men who pose as monks. It is Generosity Compassion and Wisdom taught by the Buddha, not "us vs them" or "me, mine, and not yours" or "I am right and you are wrong." Good heavens, I feel sorry for them, their enemies are themselves. This is what happens when the outward appearances are emphasized over inner development on the Eightfold Path.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Captain Dane's three rules of Sailing

we recently became interested in sailing and it turns out to be a clear reflection of the Dhamma just as thru hiking was. Captain Dane is a sailor and teacher we just met who shared these three rules:
"#1. Always Pay Attention to everything all around." What else but Mindfulness?
"#2. If in doubt, let it out." this actually is the Golden Rule of Sailing and refers to the Mainsail, if you fight with it you will surely get a knock down so ease up, take the middle way.
"#3. Don't be mean. Mean has three meanings: it can mean average - so don't be average, go your own way, follow your bliss; it can mean stingy - so be generous; and it can mean cruel, so be kind. And you may have noticed I used the word mean several times in another fashion - meaning - the true meaning of everything is the loss of delusion. I thanked him for the Dhamma talk and thanked my lucky stars for bringing us together.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

making money with the Dhamma

"the Dhamma is Nobody's Business"
~freed from false needs and greed.

There is pressure upon us as monks to be successful, to make it big, to have a huge fine monastery and many many followers. Whenever this feeling arises there is a coincident resistance, a disagreement in my heart mind that says this is free to all, I am free to give as I feel moved or not as I do also. I have no need to proselytize, no needs at all. Everything is just as it should be.Each of us has their own life and path to lead. I can answer questions easily reflecting the Dhamma in daily life and this helps others to move more smoothly, easily and quietly. It is cooling and soothing to the hurts and fires of the world. I can continue to be free of needs and greed.