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

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.