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

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.