Saturday, July 22, 2017

I hope.

I hope to be there when my daughter grows old.

I hope to see her fall in love, to be there when her heart is broken and then made whole again.

I hope to see her succeed, to build things, to make her impact on the world.

I hope to be there when things are falling apart, when times are tough and chances seem slim.

I hope to see her being a goof ball. To see her laugh and try new things.

I hope to see her figuring things out, diving into problems and charting a new course.

I hope to see her sitting by the water, nothing more to do.

I hope to see her listen deeply, to witness her acts of kindness and her generosity with others.

We never know the hour or circumstances of our death. This life is like a child's shoelace, quick to come undone.

I hope I am blessed with the privilege of growing old, to be able to be present in the lives of my loved ones.

We can never be sure of what the future holds for us. We can only practice being present now and enjoying this brief moment that we have together. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stillness within movement.

Settle the mind. Let it rest naturally. Let it rest in its own place.

Let go of any thoughts or stories playing out in your head. Let go of your plans and projects. Simply rest in open presence.

Calm, peaceful, expansive presence.

Stillness.

Within that stillness,
thoughts will drift like tumbling leaves,
sensations will burst forth and disappear like water bubbles,
voices and sounds reverberate like an echo in a canyon.

Movement within stillness.

Nothing to do, simply rest.

Movement is free in its own place, naturally freed without having to do anything.

Resting deeply, we become like a vast ocean of equanimity; the variety of sights, sounds and thoughts rise and fall, yet we remain unmoved in the expanse of naturally settled meditation. 

Resting deeply in stillness we can accommodate movement without being disturbed. Gaining proficiency with movement within stillness, we can begin to recognize stillness within movement.

Extending an arm, lifting a glass, walking, conversing, working. All thoughts, expressions and movement manifest as a grand play of awareness.

There is no need to fight or struggle, movement doesn't destroy stillness, it enhances awareness.

Don't bind your mind to stillness. Don't block movement. The inseparability of stillness and movement is the wisdom mind of pristine awareness, the natural Great Perfection.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Different emanations.

Most people probably haven't heard of the tulku system in Tibet. A tulku is a recognized reincarnate lama or teacher, the Dalai Lama being the most famous and prominent of this generation. Often times at a very young age, children are recognized as being an emanation of a previous teacher. There are various ways that this recognition occurs, some legitimate, others not. Overall, the tulku tradition is broken and much can be said about just how broken it is

But that is not really my concern, nor is it beneficial for our practice.

What is beneficial to our practice and our life is one particularly unique aspect of the tulku tradition. A single teacher can have five different emanations in their next life. They may take a single rebirth, but they could emanate in up to five ways. Those five emanations are called: body, speech, mind, activity and qualities.

Not many tulkus have done five. Actually, I can only think of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo as an example of all five. 

How is this important for us? Why is it meaningful?

How many different emanations do you embody in this life?

Surely you take certain forms in order to carry out certain activities, but also take on different roles to meet different circumstances. You might take a certain stance at your work, and in your personal life prefer another posture.

The important point is that we are full of contradictions and tension and apparent inconsistencies.  We don't need to embody a singular self, such a self isn't even truly real.  We can take many forms in our life, each carrying out benefit in their own way and on their own time. 

Regardless of the form you are taking, carry it onto the path. Let the path clarify confusion and give rise to wisdom. Dedicate the merit.

Perhaps most importantly, don't get stuck on the notion of you being just one thing. That is not who you are, it is a side of you and maybe a prominent part, but there is much more below the surface.




Thursday, July 13, 2017

If you were to pick one, which would it be?

Imagine a scenario:

You are an enlightened being. You are compassionate and generous. You bear a strong suit of patience. You have cunning wisdom and insight and the strong aspiration to bring benefit to all beings. You effortlessly fulfill the aims of others, simultaneously fulfilling your own aims. 

All other beings are unenlightened. You live in a world in which everyone is suffering. Everyone else doesn't understand the true nature of reality or their own nature. Your job is to tirelessly try to liberate them from their own confusion. You are the only one who has the vision and wisdom necessary to carry out that task.

Imagine another scenario:

You are unenlightened. You know your own suffering. Anger, attachment, frustration and delusion follow you like a shadow. You try to be generous, but end up holding back. You try to be patient, but end up blowing a fuse. You have insight, sure, but there are many days you just don't know what to do. 

Everyone else is enlightened.  Everyone else is trying to wake you up. Everyone is your teacher, a spiritual friend or a guide on the road. Every interaction is an opportunity, every trial is part of the path. Everyone is in on the game. You are the last to wake up. 

Both of these scenarios are unrealistic, but which one do you think would lead to quicker progress on the path?

The student-teacher relationship is not well understood in the west. There is a lot of cultural baggage and misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. There is a lot of gross misconduct and deceit that takes place. You should properly analyze the teacher and the teachings. Once you do though, you should try to generate pure vision in regards to the teacher.

It may not be possible to see all beings as enlightened, to appreciate them all as guides on the path. That would be a stretch. But if we could see one person as enlightened and really be impacted by their teachings, then maybe we would be more receptive to other forms of teachers and teachings as well.

Start with one. One is the minimum. Be willing to be receptive, to generate reverence and devotion, to respect and to serve one being.  If you can do it with one, more will appear. 

Who knows, maybe you are the last one to wake up. 



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Say yes.

What do a barista, a stranger on the bus, a teacher, a lawyer and a designer all have in common?

They can all be practicing virtue.

They can be patient, generous, compassionate and kind. They can act fairly, justly, without bias or discrimination. They can share insight and experience, share tidbits of wisdom and joy.

When we interact with those whose path is one of all-embracing virtue, we encounter a certain honesty and truthfulness. It feels right, genuine.

They often have a freedom and joy about them. They exhibit a natural grace and ease, a sense of lightheartedness.

As they move through the world, every encounter is one of mutual sharing and exchange. There is a directness free from the baggage of strong emotions, projections or bias. They interact with others in a way that the chains of confusion are broken and the cycle of anger is interrupted, even if only for a moment.

So how do we carry that virtue into our lives?

Say yes to whatever is coming up.

You could be faced with a problem that you would rather not deal with. Opportunities could present themselves, do you take them or not? A stranger might ask you something, or maybe a friend. You will have to interact with someone you really don't like that much.

Don't push it away. Don't get overly excited and enraptured by it. Say yes, acknowledge it, and see where it leads.

Be willing to interact with things as they are.

Some things play themselves out, unravel and wither away. Some evolve and open up into something else altogether.

The play of interdependence is beyond the mind. We can't say for certain what will happen. Our own decisions, connections and propensities create a world that is uniquely our own. It can be challenging to carry that experience into the world around us to effect change, make a difference or to benefit others.

Simply engaging in the formless practice of all-embracing virtue,
we can meet with the world and our experience as it is,
and bring about benefit in ways that we could have never imagined.

That is how all-embracing virtue creates inconceivable benefit. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Born free.

When you enter a new situation, a new job, a new city, a new life, what are your primary concerns?

We are concerned about our parents and teachers, the neighborhood and school district, the crime and homelessness. We care about the class we are in or the team we are on. Reputation, notoriety and association are all a big deal.

These are deep seated concerns. We care about where we are born. We have an innate predisposition to seek out positive rebirths, positive circumstances.

The purification of rebirth isn't to be reborn in the wealthiest neighborhood with the best schools and the best odds of getting into the best colleges with the best sports teams. No. The purification of birth is to able to enter any situation, any circumstance, any life and to be unstained by its faults.

When we are able to take any form and not be bound, then we are truly free. Taking the conditions that you find yourself in, using them as the basis of the path, and transforming them through wisdom to bring benefit to others, that is freedom.

The rest is just bondage in gold chains. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Go for depth.

How many new students want to go deep?

It is gratifying to get new faces in the door. To have new energy in the room. To see light bulbs turn on, connections built, impact made. But how many of those people keep digging for more?

Some come, get what they are looking for and go on their way.

Some come, build a strong connection and stick around for a long time. Years later they still ask the same questions, still have the same hangups.

Some come, and they come with a blaze. They eat up all they can, put in a huge amount of effort and energy, make significant contributions and build up a lot of trust and respect. And then they burn out and disappear.

Some come, and they put in the time and energy. They contribute, their questions evolve and become more nuanced, they keep digging. They keep showing up, year after year. Year after year, they become more integrated, take on more responsibility, are more generous and more patient. Their understanding deepens, and with depth comes breadth and subtlety. Connections are made, insight drawn out. They share, lift people up and make an impact on those around them.

Not every student can plumb the depths. Some don't have the capacity, some don't have the time, some just aren't in it for those reasons.

If you're lucky, you will find a few who go deep.