Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Siddhearta's Essence of 2013

2013 was a great year.

Writing for me is a practice of clarifying my intention and my actions.  It is a joy to be able to share it with all of you.  I am truly blessed to have so much support in my life and I thank you for supporting me on my path. 

This is Siddhearta's second year of existence, and it has started to take shape and move out of the randomness that is was in 2012.  I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve and what shapes it assumes in 2014. 

To give you an overview of 2013, here are the top 15 posts ranked by pageviews.

1.  Perfecting Patience
2. A Fruitful Life
3. What do you stand for?
4. A Simple Vessel
5. The Code.
6. Wealth Distribution
7. Legacy
8. Is what you are doing meaningful?
9. The Battleground
10. Gods and Demons
11. Two Faced
12. Dig Deeper
13. Simplicity
14. Your Practice
15. The Lens

I wish all of you a great year, a year of health and happiness.
May you find what you are looking for,
May you share generously,
May your kindness bring light to the world around you,
and may your determination accomplish not only your own aims, but the aims of others.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Blank Slate

Clear you space, your table or desk.
Sit down with a blank piece of paper in front of you and a pen.
Don't do anything else, just sit with that piece of paper.
Sit in the moment with presence, with openness.

After awhile you'll find that the paper starts to fill itself up.
To-dos, ideas, poems, notations, sketches, reminders.

The to-dos come with schedules and deadlines, the poems are tweaked, the notations are expanded upon and clarified, the sketches are refined, the reminders have names and times and the ideas snowball into projects.  All of that comes with their attendants of work and effort, a calendar of events and short and long-term goals.

The list goes on. Your page is full.

So much of the Buddha's teachings focus on the way we exist, on what is the true 'self'.  The Buddha taught that we do not have a truly existing, independent self.  Much can be said about this, but it really comes down to the fact that we do not exist the way we think we do.

We associate ourselves with what we do, how we appear, with our thoughts and ideas.
We associate ourselves with our culture, our credentials, what we like and dislike, with our name.

But that is not our true nature.  That is all writing on the paper.

It is not that we don't exist at all, that we are nothing and nothing matters- that's nihilism.

Our true nature is like the blank piece of paper.  The blank paper is pure potential.  Not being any thing at all, it can appear in any way whatsoever.  It is all-accommodating, completely open and unobstructed, and its nature is to arise in various forms.  Actually, the arising is unceasing, but therein lies the problem.

In the manner of arising we cling to the forms that it takes.  We associate with the content.  We fixate on the to-dos, the ideas and sketches; on what we do, what we think and how we feel.  Then we need to maintain and elaborate those until we are all filled up and there is no more room to doodle.

And it sucks.  We are too busy, overworked, have few moments of opportunity and too many responsibilities and demands to take the time to rest.  Unless resting is passing out in mindlessness.

That is why you meditate.  That is why you need a daily practice.

Meditation is a space to sit and abide in our potentiality, our true nature.  We can wipe the slate clean, rest in its nakedness.  Rest in openness.

And yet there is still arising.

Stuff continues to come up, to appear on our page.  But we don't need to fixate on that, it simply arises, does its thing, and exhausts itself back into our pure potential.  Our whole life is like that, it arises in various forms, does its thing and then exhausts itself and takes a new form.  The problem is that we are usually so bound up to the forms that we hate to see them go, and when they do exhaust themselves and depart we often don't recognize or abide in our pure potential but rather end up just feeling exhausted ourselves.  That is why we need to recognize our true nature.    

Not being anything at all, appearing as anything whatsoever.

ps. the Buddha described this pure potential as our buddhanature.  We all have it, it is fully manifest, right there.  We just need to recognize and abide in it to let it blossom.  Cheers!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Embodied.

I see a lot of weary and disheartened people.
I see a lot of disembodied people.

More than anything, I think people are looking for a sense of authentic presence in their lives.  They want to feel genuine, to feel that their life is full of meaning and purpose.

They want to be embodied.

But to be embodied, you need to know where you stand.  To trust your ground.

You need to know your values, to have integrity in what you do and dignity in who you are.

You need to have confidence, be brave enough to push past your fear and face your uncertainty.

You need to see through your faults and failures, drawing out the lessons and carrying on the wisdom.

You need to be willing to be vulnerable, to care without being callous and to give without expectation.

To be embodied is to embrace the qualities in you, to see the illusory nature of everything you are, were or will be, but to see that potentiality despite the illusions.

Its all right there, embrace it.  


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In Search for the Meaning of Christmas

It is interesting how the stories of our life and times form.  Are the events and stories meant to be understood literally, or are they symbols for us to discover a deeper meaning? 

Jesus constantly taught using parables.  These were meant for us to examine and to discover an underlying meaning for ourselves and its significance in our own life.  What if we were to examine the ultimate parable then- the way Jesus lived his life- would that reveal a deeper meaning? 

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel. 

Emmanuel: 'God is with him'
Israel: 'He who struggles with God'

In our quest to find God in our life, we often look outside of ourselves.  In our collective ignorance we search for our salvation and freedom as if it is going to come from the outside in.  We become confused who we are struggling with, what we are struggling for. 

Are we struggling against others, against those who oppose us?  Are we struggling against God?  Are we struggling to find God anew?  Yet time and again in our struggle, we lose it, we separate ourselves from it.  So what is the struggle?

We are told Jesus is born in the town of Bethlehem, meaning 'the House of the Lamb'.  Lamb here could be interpreted as a sacrificial offering to God, but it could also be understood as an intentional offering to others.  In this sense, one is offering one's own body, speech and mind to the salvation and liberation of others. 

So Jesus, meaning 'Yahweh is salvation' was born in Bethlehem, by being an offering to others liberation.  Yahweh means 'I am', 'He who is', or 'to be'.  So salvation lies in He who is.  He who discovers this in himself gains the holy land, Jerusalem.  Jerusalem, meaning 'the ground of Shalem', Shalem meaning 'the morning star'- the dawn of awakening.

One who gains control of this sacred ground, Jerusalem- the ground of awakening, rules with full dominion over the promised land, Israel.  But the struggle is no longer strained by trying to control or gain power over the ground or things outside of oneself, the struggle is to embody the message of 'Jesus'- Yahweh is salvation.

The struggle is 'to be'. 

That is the meaning of Christ-mass, the Mass or 'divine worship' of Christ- the 'anointed one' symbolizing the presence of God.  

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  God is with him,
Shall come to thee, who struggles to embody the message of Jesus,
Who struggles 'to be'. 



Monday, December 23, 2013

A View as High as the Sky.

Next time you fly, grab a window seat.

From 30,000 feet you can see everything.  Your view is absolutely all-pervasive, completely clear and unobstructed. 

It is peaceful.  A serene tranquility in the spacious sky. 

Down below you can see infinite worlds and environs unfold.  Banks of clouds gather here and there, cities cascade across the landscape.  Cars move here and there, forming tiny chains of lights. You can look down on houses, imagine people going about their day, cooking, working, fighting, falling in love. 

From 30,000 feet you can witness all of these worlds amidst a profound inner stillness. 

As you descend you start to enter into the clouds, you start to feel the winds of turbulence- temporary conditions.  You still have a greater view than from the ground, but you are vulnerable to the winds and obstructed views.

Fear can show its ugly face.  There definitely can be some confusion as to where you are.  It's generally calm, true, but fear and uncertainty are always a moment away. 

As you continue to descend, the landing gear comes down.  Things are getting pretty busy.  You can see cars rushing all over, people passing each other on the highway.  Everything is much more coarse and distinct, that all-pervasive view of space is gone.  Sure, you know right where you are but there is no larger view.  Still, you are above the fray and there is a sense of peace and calm amidst.

Then you land, you are in the fray and can only look up and wonder what is around you, what lies ahead.  Everything is coarse, your emotions surge, your mind is filled with thoughts and plans.  You can't even get off the plane without trying to hurry or be annoyed with others around you. 

"God, it is hot in here!"

Gone is the peace, that spacious calm.  You are the fray. 

You probably don't realize it but we are all trying to gain a better view.  Most of us are content just to get above the fray, which is really just the final descent before we land. 

Having been to 30,000 feet, that seems silly.

If you want to make it to the clouds it is going to take some work.  You are going to need a practice.  You need something to rely on.  Do you think it is going to happen by chance?  It isn't easy to fly. 

Actually, to make it to the clouds is quite an accomplishment.  Think about it, you would have an expansive view of the world, yourself and others.  Undoubtedly you would face fear and uncertainty, get caught up in turbulent situations and dense clouds, but you would also know a profound inner peace and calm.  You would be able to see where people are and be able to help them, or at the very least to facilitate help arriving. 

So how do we get to 30,000 feet?

It requires you to move beyond conditions, beyond your temporary circumstances.  You need to completely transcend fear, eliminate all of your obscurations and the limitations of your view.  You need to move beyond all grasping and fixation, become a master of mindful awareness that illuminates like the sun in the spacious sky. 

The supreme view, the absolute pinnacle, is the view of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. This is the only view that allows you to bring the experience and wisdom of 30,000 feet, into the fray. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Practice.

Your practice can take many forms, but it should be a practice that lends itself to profound depth.

As you go deeper, layers of meaning unfold.
As you go deeper, certainty dawns.

It should be a practice that lends itself to vast subtlety.

As you become more aware, connections are made.
As you become more aware, implications are realized.

To train in a practice that has depth and subtlety is to train in becoming an ocean of wisdom.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Investing in your Retirement.

Most of us know the rules for investing in your retirement:

1. Start early.
2. Make continual installments over the long term.
3. Delay making early withdrawals.

Sure there are other ways to invest your money, but in this scenario time is your friend.

The Buddha also taught this type of investing in your long term happiness and welfare, he called it the accumulation of merit.  It is based on the principle that right now you probably don't have the resources or opportunity to achieve or maintain the full result, but that you have some resources and opportunity available to you. 

So you should invest and dedicate your merit to achieving the full result in the future.  The result can be a better life, more peace of mind and confidence.  It could be a higher birth in the world, or to be able to bring benefit to yourself and others.  It could be to achieve complete and utter buddhahood, but we don't have to worry about that. 

Either way, the rules for investing your merit stay the same:

1. Start early. 
Now preferably.  I mean what are you waiting for?

2. Make continuous installments over the long term.
The accumulation of merit doesn't need to be grandiose or impressive.  It can be small acts of generosity, random acts of kindness.  It can be tiny acts of virtue, or even a moment of patience.  Whatever it is, have the intention that it bears its fruit in the future and brings countless benefit to yourself and others.  Let compound interest** work in your favor. 

3. Delay making early withdrawals.
Resist those rash temptations and short-term vision.  Don't give up and cash out in a moment of anger or desperation.  Don't get caught up in the daily highs and lows, resist the urge to respond to dramatic swings. 

Following these three simple rules, you can be sure that you will achieve your aims and the aims of others.  You will live a life of great purpose and there is no limit to the wealth and well-being that you will experience.


**Compound interest- your own and others interests

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Plague of Indifference.

We are suffering from one of the worst epidemics in recent human history.  It has the potential to spread to every corner of the land and to infect every person.  It leaves its victims lifeless, like wandering zombies.

It is the plague of indifference.

It strikes those who care.  Those that are trying to make a difference, to bring benefit to others.  It has a slow onset, germinating in those who time and time again go the extra mile.  It reproduces and gains its strength as kindness and generosity are taken advantage of, exploited and disrespected.

The infection starts to display signs and symptoms as the victim gets worn out, angry at themselves for trying so hard and for caring so much.  They may feel guilty for wanting to help others, for repeating this cycle again and again only to end up in states of loss.

The infection has reached its full measure when the victim no longer cares, when they just go through the motions and do what they are told.

One remedy for this infection is to show appreciation and respect to those who aren't infected.  To rejoice in their efforts.  This remedy can delay or offset the progression of the disease, but it is not necessarily a cure.

The only cure is to protect your own mind, and the only way to do that is to cultivate bodhicitta, the awakened mind.  It is only by cultivating bodhicitta that you can bear the burden of unpleasant and painful circumstances.  It is only by cultivating bodhicitta that you can abandon your own susceptibility to 'woe is me'.

One who cultivates bodhicitta is a bodhisattva, a courageous awakened warrior.

They don't fight others, they fight to establish them in peaceful, happy states.
They fight to bring them benefit.

They fight for those who care, and to help those who don't to regain their purpose.

It is a battle worth fighting for.

As it states in the Heart Sutra:

There is no attainment, and even no non-attainment.  Therefore, Shariputra, since bodhisattvas have no attainments, they rely on this perfection of wisdom and abide in it.  Having no obscurations in their minds, they have no fear, and by going utterly beyond error, they will reach the end of nirvana. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Bug of Perceptions.

Your perceptions affect your reality and your experience of the world.

Go to a homeless shelter infected with bed bugs, or to a school with an outbreak of lice.

Just being there, I bet you start to feel itchy.  You might even be feeling itchy just thinking about the possibility of getting bed bugs or lice. 

What you think and what you perceive to be true (even though it probably isn't) affects how you feel and how you interact with the world around you.  It affects your every action. 

What happens when you think you are more important than others around you? 
What happens when you are angry?  When you are worried?  Stressed?
Need we even mention those who are racist, bigoted or ignorant? 

If you feel itchy because you perceive the possibility of beg bugs near you,
or if you feel that the world is always fighting you because you perceive your situation to be right,
the only way to fix the problem is to correct your perception.

You need to train your mind.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where is the Magic?

Convenience sucks the magic out of our lives.
Magic lies in simplicity, gentleness and appreciation. 
It only arises in the present, now. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Expectations

A bee goes about his day carrying out his work, collects honey and brings it back to the hive.  If you get in his way or threaten him, you might get stung.

Ah, that stings.  I should have known better, should have been more careful. 

We all know that is what bees do.

Have you ever driven in the back country in cattle country?  I'm talking gravel road, wandering herd back country.  The cows just wander about, grazing and eating.  Sometimes they just stand right in the road, minding their own business.  You can sit there and honk, drive up really close, but mostly you just need to wait until they move.  And of course they move.

Maybe you grew a little impatient, but you never really got angry, right?  I mean its a cow, being a cow. 

Ever leave food outside, the birds will get at it.  Or the coons.  You should have known better, should have been more careful.

But why is it that when we get stung by people just going about their business, we get angry.

Why is it that when people get in our way and won't move, we get angry.

Why is it that when people come after what is ours, we get angry and defensive.

Maybe we should have known better.  Maybe we should have been more careful.

Speak nicely and guard your mind. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

We all fall.

We all fall sometimes.

It happens in different ways.  It is almost always unexpected and out of the blue.

When we fall, we know it.  It hurts, we look like a fool and we put in the effort to get back up.

But what does falling look like?

You've fallen when your mind is filled with anxiety and worry, when you are feeling insecure and self-conscious.

You've fallen when fear and apprehension dictate your course, when you feel unsettled.

You've fallen when you are selfish and rude, when your words are sharp and cut at people's hearts.

You fallen when you act with an air of indifference, concerned with only your own comfort and needs.

You've fallen when you fume with anger and jealousy gnaws at your heart, when you mind is caught up in strong wants and mistaken needs.

If you don't listen, don't give a damn and can't stop talking about yourself, you've fallen.

So get up.

Things don't need to be this way, there is a path out of this.  This isn't permanent.  But you have to recognize that you have fallen.

It is ordinary to fall.  It is the extraordinary that can maintain their composure and get back up.

We need you to get up.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dharma Project




I am happy to announce a new project that my friends Karen Johnstone, An Ri and myself have started.  

timelessfootsteps.org

Our goal is to start a tradition of study and practice.  More specifically, to:

To spark, stir, excite, and invite those who are interested in Dharma.
To encourage, empower, and inspire those on the path.
To clarify what it means to be on the path, what it means to be a practitioner.
To facilitate insight, clarity, illumination, stability, devotion, patience, diligence and wisdom.

Sign up to receive updates by email, join us on Facebook or Twitter, or pass it along to friends who might be interested.




Friday, November 1, 2013

A Simple Vessel.

What was your intention upon entering the womb in this life?

Was it to be rich, famous and successful?
To wine and dine at the finest restaurants?
Was it to see the latest blockbuster, buy the newest gadget?
To play in a band, write a book?
Was it to find your partner, raise a family?
To live a long time, to be healthy?
Was it to run wild, experience everything under the sun?
What was it?

It is a strange question, but if you had an intention for entering the womb,
what was it?

Was it one of those?

Or was it to awaken to the truth. 
To share generously and love. 
To bring benefit to others, to make an impact in people's lives. 
Was it to empower the weak, to feed the hungry.
Maybe it was as simple as to take impermanence as your vessel,
and to live a life of compassion. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Wise Man.

A wise man is one who studies,
Not only studies, but one who contemplates,
Not only contemplates, but one who meditates,
Not only meditating on that which is born, but on that which is unborn,
Meditating on that which is unborn is to realize suchness,
Realizing suchness one awakens to perfect wisdom.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is What You are Doing Meaningful?



You keep checking things off your to-do list, but does it matter?

Does what you are doing improve upon your situation, do you find any benefit?

Does it benefit others?

Struggling to stay afloat means you are always a moments notice away from being underwater.  If you are going to put effort into anything, cultivate bodhicitta.

Bodhicitta give your life meaning.
It gives you strength, fortitude.
It brings unimaginable benefit to others, it is the panacea.

If you are going to check anything off of your to-do list today, make sure you check off aspiring to bodhicitta. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Treading Water.

Why does it always feel like we are treading water?  And juggling at the same time.

There is so much to do in a day-
work, special projects, manage your house, your family, all the commitments and appointments,
all the email, Facebook, Twitter trends and news to follow-
our day is so full of stuff to do that we rarely find any rest.

If we do find rest, or deliberately take it, sometimes we feel like we are sinking and giving up the ground that we fought so hard to gain.  Any progress that we had made is given back and we feel the need to work harder just to get caught up. 

If we are constantly flailing our arms and legs just to keep our head above water, when are we ever going to find the time for our own practice?  When are you going to find the time to share generously, to make an impact and to do something meaningful? 

To train on the path means that we change all of this.  It is not changing what you do but how you do it. 

You can learn a better technique.
You can change your habits.
You can be stronger.  Improve your endurance.
You might even be able to find a way out altogether. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shimmering on the Horizon.

Your dream job.  Or even a better job.

A nicer house.  Better neighborhod.

Less debt.  More money.

More time.

Less stress.

A new haircut.  Better abs.  Hell, abs.

To be loved.  To find your person.

What is it that you are hoping for?  Expecting to come true, or struggling to achieve?

What's out there that is preventing you from being happy, content and fulfilled?  You can see it in the distance, it's right there.

It's a mirage.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go Back, and Learn.

Step back for a moment, from where you are, what you know.

Take a beginner's lesson in mathematics or programming at the Khan Academy.  Learn the proper technique used to row a boat.  Look up words you already know in the dictionary.

When you approach things you 'already know' with a beginner's mind, you discover all kinds of insight.  You see new connections.  You discover nuance, precision. 

The simplicity is refreshing.  The deliberateness humbling. 

What happens when we use this same mindset to approach our own anger, jealousy or fear?  Our preferences and perceptions?

If we deconstruct impatience, what does it look like?

What are the building blocks of anxiety and stress, is what we already know about them true?

Give yourself a chance to be a beginner again, with your self.

You may give rise to insight and understanding.  You may even feel refreshed. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Remembering Your Teachers

The ones who taught us to learn.
The ones who taught us to love learning.
Those that taught us to love, to forgive, to care.
Those that taught us to stand on our own two feet,
And those that taught us to get back up again.

Remembering those who taught us to explore, 
to push past our limitations,
to break the mold,
and those that taught us to put it back together again. 

We really remember the ones who taught us to confront our fear,
and the one that taught us how to tame our mind.

You might not know who you are,
the impact you have had.
You don't remember the words you said,
or even how you said them.

But we do.  Thank you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Mechanics of Aversion

Normally things aren't too bad.  We are doing our own thing, working on our projects or catching up with friends and family.  Life is busy.

We spend a lot of our time keeping ourselves busy.

Busy feels good.  It is comfortable.  We may complain about being busy to others, but secretly we know we want to be busy.  Doing something.

What can I do?

Aversion keeps a pretty tight rope on our mind.  Aversion really pervades most of our day, but we cover it up with being busy. 

Don't believe me?  You don't need to.  Go stand in line at the post office for thirty minutes.  Or get behind a slow driver who makes you miss the green light.

Lots of aversion going on, right?

Aversion in its coarsest state is anger.  Full-blown, get the f outta my way, I got shit to do.  Nobody really likes to be angry.  They don't like the way it makes them feel and they don't like the impression it leaves on others.

A more subtle level of aversion is irritation and uncomfortableness.  It is the habit to react and do.  To fix and adjust.  We have so much agitation and irritation going on in our body and mind that we need to keep moving just to avoid it.

Generally when people think of meditation they imagine a peaceful state of samadhi.  Sitting blissed out in a state of ease.  That might be true, sometimes, but in order to get there we need to get through all the irritation first.

When we sit in meditation, fully present and open, we notice the uncomfortableness of our body and feelings.  Don't react.  Don't fix.  Don't judge.

Letting our body and feelings remain as they are, our irritation and agitation liberate themselves.  We can hold onto that agitation and irritation and let it give rise to aversion, or we can let those feelings remain as they are, resolving themselves and freeing them in their own place.

So the next time you experience irritation or agitation, who is holding onto what?  Are you moving just to keep moving, to keep escaping the irritation?

Rest in openness.  Free yourself of this unnecessary burden.  


Sunday, September 22, 2013

What do you stand for?

What do people like you do?

People like us do the work.  We show up.

We care.

We are generous, loving and kind. 

We like to have fun, we are good natured and easy going,
but we don't waste time,
because we don't have time to waste. 

Our work- to liberate ourselves from our own confusion, fear and neurosis so that we can truly be open, receptive and available for others.

That is where the magic happens. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coming Soon: Weekly Guided Meditation and Instruction Course


Immerse yourself in a weekly meditation program designed for new and experienced students.  Learn the tools necessary to establish your own daily practice, receive meditation instruction and progressive techniques that allow your practice to blossom. 
Commit to a daily practice.  Practice weekly with a supportive community in a healthy environment.  Have open discussion sessions and resolve your questions.  Clarify your practice.  Let your practice clarify you.  


'The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature.'
Sogyal Rinpoche

weekly meetings starting September 26, 2013
1716 NW Market St
Seattle, WA  98107
Thursdays 7-8p


Greg Patenaude is a pharmacist, writer and Tibetan translator. He has been leading meditation groups and retreats in Seattle since 2006 under the guidance of his spiritual teacher Younge Khachab Rinpoche.  For more details contact: siddhearta@gmail.com


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Code.

1. You have the guts.
2. Your going to do the work.
3. Your going to work hard.
4. Your going to make the time.
5. Your self-directed and self-reliant.
6. You ask questions.  Lots of questions.
7. You dig deeper. 
8. You show up.  For yourself and others.
9. You love being generous.
10. You are authentic.

11. And this isn't all about you.














Monday, August 26, 2013

Then Commit.

Seth Godin asked a profound question today:

"Is this something that will respond to guts, effort and investment?"

This is the question that we should be asking ourselves with regard to our work, our practice and our art.  When you have found your 'Yes' then you know you are headed in the right direction. 

Keep digging


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gelato.


'Like a gelato shop, we are many flavors in this life.
Problems start to arise when we think we are only one.'

That is the wisdom of the Buddha.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Static.

We are not very familiar anymore with static on the radio, but do you remember those days of dialing into a radio station? You would get close, close enough to hear the lyrics, but just off enough that you kept tweaking the dial. 

Then you would hit it.

The vibrance of the music would shoot through the speakers, its clarity would lift your soul.  Its energy enliven your mind.  Oh, how those hips would start to groove and that music would move you.

You would dance.

Today most of our days are filled with static.  The endless distraction, consumption and activity.  The static of our job, our situation, our chosen social network.  We are all supposed to be somewhere or something but where we are at is not it.  Most days we can barely even discern the lyrics, there definitely ain't no music coming through.

Every once in awhile though, we tune in.  We hear something that we connect with.  It moves us.

If that music stirs your heart, picks you out of your funk, makes you feel a little jive-  Follow it.  Let it move you and create the conditions for it to keep playing in your life.  Go deeper

Then you might find your music.  Your rhythm.

Share your music with the world.  Be Generous.  Be Loving.  Be Kind.  Let it lift the weak and enliven the weary.   Let it infuse your work, your life and your day.

It's good to be dancing again.  




Upcoming Workshop

A FREE upcoming meditation workshop is coming up in September.  This is a great opportunity to receive meditation instruction or to reinvigorate your practice.  Please contact me for more details at siddhearta@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well Trained

As you are practicing on the path, you like to know where you stand.  How is your practice progressing?  Is your practice effective?

The mark of being well trained is that despite being busy, despite stressful situations and surging emotions you can remain at ease.  These things never really go away.  Life never gets easy.  Your practice is simply to allow you to meet life where it is at.  To meet people honestly and openly. 

When you no longer feel trapped by temporary circumstances, you know you are making progress.  When you no longer feel overcome by negative mental states, you know your practice is effective. 

When you can meet adversity with openness, meet anger with patience and meet strangers with kindness, you have a genuine spiritual practice. 

Continue doing what you are doing. You are well trained. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

UFOs

 

Show someone a UFO and they are captivated.  Their curiosity is ignited and they search for an answer to what it is.  What is that thing?

We are uncomfortable in mystery. 

But provide an explanation, resolve the mystery and identify the object as it is and that same very thing becomes uninteresting.  A rationale and logical identification removes all curiosity, why pay further attention to that which we already know?

UFOs are interesting because they are unidentified, yet day in and day out we seek to identify everything.  The question that might be worth pursuing is are our labels correct?  Do we correctly identify things, people and the world around us and then through that identity write them off as uninteresting.  

What if the people we encounter and the world around us broke out of the box we have put them in?  Would our relationships be more interesting if we were actually curious about the person sitting across from us?  Would our day be more fulfilling if we were free from our perception of what the day was going to be before it even started?

If we break out of identity, the world and the people we meet become a mystery.  We are once again borne of curiosity, begging to take a deeper look and keep exploring. 

Time to break out of the box. 


Photo courtesy www.ufosightingsdaily.com

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Refuge is Where You Take It

A morning haiku by Karen Johnstone.

Sitting this morning
A quiet space: clear, fresh, vibrant
Amid city's din.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Simplicity.






Simplicity and renunciation- a doctrine of richness.

In simplicity there is appreciation.  Enjoyment.  A natural ease and contentment. 

With renunciation there is no clinging, no chasing after fleeting experiences.  No bite of the hook that leads you off into ceaseless torment. 

Simply abiding as you are, renunciation prevents you from being pulled away.  Renouncing anything else, you awaken to what simply is.  When you recognize what remains, you will experience the richness of being. 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Progression of Wisdom

Wisdom of Learning
The wisdom of learning and studying is the result of having gained knowledge and a conceptual understanding of a given subject.

Wisdom of Contemplation
The wisdom of contemplation is a deeper understanding of the implications and connections of this knowledge.  This deeper understanding allows you to apply your knowledge outside of one's subject matter and bring its insight into new settings.

Wisdom of Meditation
The wisdom of meditation is the experiential familiarization with this knowledge.  This is a profound level of understanding, not only of the implications and connections but the resolution of all doubts and uncertainty.  As one gains the wisdom of meditation, the obscurations to knowledge are continually removed as one goes deeper into the practice, gaining access to and cultivating a depth of knowledge that is beyond words or imagination.

The culmination of the wisdom of meditation is the knowledge of the true nature of reality and indeed the true nature of your own mind.  This is the wisdom that spiritual teachers share with us.  Having gone beyond mere words, they can share their own experience. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Legacy

Success.  Achievement.  Fame and fortune.
Viral videos and one-hit wonders.  Your fifteen minutes of fame.

We all leave a legacy behind, but it doesn't have to be a parade of ego.

To leave a legacy of kindness, compassion and generosity, you only need to follow one bit of advice:

Honestly care for others.

Dedicate all your actions to helping others, alleviating their suffering.  Take a moment to build a personal connection, share your time with those who need it.  Give gifts that matter.  Leave your workplace, your community and your world better than you found it.

That is a legacy that lasts. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Illusions

Are illusions real?  Do they truly exist?

On the one hand they appear, but we know from inspection and analysis that they can be proven to be false and deceptive.  If we are unaware of what is going on we could be tricked into thinking that illusions are real.  This kind of deception could create all kinds of problems for us, believing something to be real when it isn't.  Many a con artist has profited from this sort of deception. 

Eventually though the deception wears thin and we see things as they truly are.  With that knowledge we are never deceived in that same manner again, never caught up in the cycle of ignorance. 

So the question remains, if illusions aren't real, how do they exist?   We experience them, they have a certain color, shape, sound and maybe even touch.  But we also know from analysis that they are only brought about by certain conditions and that if those conditions fall away the illusion vanishes, thus they are not truly real. 

So we could say that while illusions appear, they are not truly existing.  I think that is a rational and logical way to describe how they exist.  While they appear, they do not truly exist. 

What about mirages? Dreams?  How about the reflection of the moon in water? 

What about an echo or a rainbow in the sky?

You should look about your life and even your self, what appears but does not truly exist upon further analysis?

What examples can you think of?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Harvest


A gardener spends a lot of time and effort with the aim of having a bountiful summer harvest.  In the spring he mends the soil, replacing any lacking nutrients and correcting any imbalances.  Then he spends considerable time planting seeds and nurturing the seeds to sprout.  This requires astute attention to conditions and adapting to what the seasons are giving him.  As the plants grow through the early summer, the gardener diligently waters and eliminates invasive weeds that can strangle the crop.  As blossoms give rise to fruits and vegetables, he guards against insects that can ruin the harvest.  Finally, the fruit ripens and he can enjoy the harvest.

It is plentiful, so much so that he gives it freely to others lest it go to waste.  He shares abundantly, others benefiting from his work and feeling satiated themselves.

This is an example of an authentic spiritual practice.  It requires a lot of work and effort, constant vigilance and persistence, but if you do the work you will reap the harvest.






Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eye Glasses.


One who has seen clearly will seek out glasses to enable himself to see if his vision becomes impaired.  He knows what he is missing, how it serves as a hindrance to his activity.

One who has never seen clearly and whose vision has always been impaired will not seek out glasses.  Why would they?  They get along just fine. 

The one who has seen will always strive to maintain his vision.  The one who has never seen has to be shown directly what they are missing, to see the alternate reality with their own eyes.

How does your vision affect your reality?  What details are you unable to see and how does that shape your experience of the world around you?  Do you value the ability to see clearly, honestly, and truly?  



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Practice Essentials

Do no harm. 
Refrain from actions, words or opinions that rub others the wrong way.  All beings everywhere experience fear and states of suffering and loss, don't put salt on an open wound.

Cultivate a wealth of virtue.
Actively practice generosity, love and kindness.  Rejoice in others happiness.  Earnestly strive to develop discipline, patience and relentless perseverance.

Tame this mind of ours.
Abandon grasping and fixation, these lie at the root of all our problems.  Do not lend yourself to compulsive activity and distraction.  Pour your efforts into gaining insight into the nature of your own mind and the nature of reality- that is the path to liberation.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Lens.

We all see the world through a lens. 

It becomes distorted by negative emotions, bias, ignorance and fear.  It is clarified by knowledge, insight and wisdom.

Our thoughts can feed our perception (or misperception), furthering the distortion into something unrecognizable or they can be used skillfully with logic and reason to create clarity and true seeing.  Our perceptions give rise to our thoughts and intentions, which themselves gives rise to our actions. 

What kind of actions are we taking if our lens is obscured?  Is it right action?  Just?

Our character, discipline and integrity are founded upon right action, doing what is right for ourselves and others.  But if we are to walk with confidence free from doubt and fear, then first we need to clean our lens. 

We need to eliminate the emotional and cognitive obscurations that affect our perception.  That is a must. 

Time to do the work.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Where has all the Wisdom gone?

All the branches of the doctrine
The Enlightened Sage expounded for the sake of wisdom.
Therefore they must cultivate this wisdom
Who wish to have an end of suffering.
Shantideva

A cursory glance discerns acts of folly, 
Men and women playing childish games, 
Crows chattering over shiny tin foil, 
A local gelato of self-aggrandizement. 

This suffering runs deep.  
No one even knows it's here.
Why would they wish to be free from it?

They don't see impermanence,
They keep moving and keep buying.
They never sit with discontentment
Because they are always distracted.
Days into weeks, weeks into years,
The days a blur and the nights unconscious. 

Why talk about conquering fear, 
Changing perception, building character?
What sense in acting with generosity,
Love and kindness?

Even a busy fool notices moments of raw discontentment, 
Catch one and look deeply into it, 
Sit with it, examine it, play with it,
And awakening is possible.  
You'll find your wisdom.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fear and the Ladder.

Fear is a pretty primal instinct.  We all have it.  It is almost always there in its various shades of darkness.  We fear our loss of friends, loved ones, status or wealth.  We fear loss of face.  We definitely fear our own death.

Our natural instinct is to try to insulate ourselves from fear.  To build up our comfort zone and a nice cushion.  That is our conquest, whether it is the fear of our present discomfort and discontentment or the fear of death itself.  In vain that conquest often takes the form of an attempt to conquer nature and the outer world.  

That is where the ladder comes in (and the habit of selfishness). 

We think if we climb higher we can actually insulate ourselves from fear.  If we can work our way up, get promoted, find a better job, make more money or achieve a certain status, then we won't be so vulnerable to fear and states of loss.  We won't be so vulnerable to death. 

It is our core belief that attaining higher states of existence will free us.

That is a pretty powerful implication.  Think about that.  Think about it in the context of your own life, our culture.  Is it true?  Can we climb our way out? 

Where is the true fire escape?




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dāna

The more we care for the happiness of others, 
the greater our own sense of well being becomes.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Sanskrit word 'Dana' means giving.  

You have something to share and we want you to share it.  It is only when you recognize your own wealth and are willing to give it to others that the path to liberation begins. This marks the beginning of an altruistic attitude, caring for the benefit of others as opposed to yourself.  

Prior to giving there was only taking, egotism and concern for one's own welfare.  You know how that turns out.  You've already tasted that fruit and it grows more sour each day.  You know its bondage first hand.  

We bind ourselves with selfishness, 
We liberate ourselves through giving, 
So start giving.     

Monday, July 8, 2013

What's Your Mark.


A marksman knows exactly where her mark is.  

She knows when she has hit it, and when she has not.  

She will exert significant effort and a substantial amount of time to mastering her skills, cultivating the correct temperament and poise so that she can willfully hit her mark.  She learns how to handle external distractions and how to work with her own internal thoughts and emotions.  She knows how to adapt when the conditions change, how to stand in varied terrain.  

When she hits her mark, she is not lost in emotion and feelings of achievement.  Her's is the quest for mastery, for knowing directly and having the confidence that comes with that knowing.  The mark simply allows her to get there.  

What's your mark?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dividends

The more time you invest in your practice- the greater your 'share of holding'- the greater the dividend you receive.  These dividends come in the form of blessings, inner wealth that can be reinvested and shared with others.

As your share of holding increases from a small portion of your life to a greater portion, you can expect to see a return on your investment in every aspect of your life- your job, your interactions with others, your good times and bad.  All the ordinary and mundane aspects of your life can become a source of great wealth and fulfillment when they are transformed by your practice.

There are no contradictions in terms of your practice.

The amount of wealth you have and the dividends you receive are commensurate with the share of your practice.  




Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Asset Protection

It is wise to guard your assets.  Only a fool would waste away his wealth on trivial pursuits and shiny diversions. 

So how do we protect our inner wealth and our most valuable asset- our mind?

Commit your most valuable resource to your practice over an extended period of time.

Your most valuable resource is your time.  We waste a lot of it and that is to be expected.  But if you invest small increments of time over a long period you end up with a lot of growth.  There is not only the protection of your inner wealth and mind, but also the development and an accumulation of great potential. 

Just like investing with money, trying to time the market and invest at the 'right time' most often leads to you missing the opportunity for real growth and development all together. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Joyous Perseverance

If a knight drops his swords, he retrieves it without hesitation in order to protect himself.  
If a snake falls in your lap, you instantly jump up in order to avoid getting bit.
If there is a chance you might lose the game, you push harder than ever, rally caps on.
If we cut ourselves, we use extra caution to clean and dress the wound, applying ointment day and night to prevent infection.

And yet, when we drop our mindfulness we are not in a hurry to retrieve it.
And yet, when negative emotions befall our mind we continue to indulge them.
And yet, when we actually lose our patience we let anger rule the show, and keep winning.
And yet, when we cut off generosity we don't care about the ensuing infection.  Who cares?

Diligence is important.  This is known amongst ordinary men and even the Buddha's praise it.  The Exhortation to Wholehearted Resolve Sutra says:

Always rely upon noble joyous perseverance,
Which clears away all suffering and darkness,
Which is the basis of freedom from miserable realms,
And which is praised by all the buddhas.

One who joyously perseveres,
Has no difficulty accomplishing any project
Whether mundane or supramundane,
Who among the learned is disheartened by joyous perseverence?

If we do not persevere in overcoming our own shortcomings, how can we achieve our own aims, much less the aims of others?


Monday, July 1, 2013

The Squire and the Knight

Would you expect a squire to give a knight advice on how to vanquish his foes?

Of course not.

The squire has no experience.  He has not conquered a single enemy, hasn't swung a sword outside of playful practice.

The knight is well worn.  His discipline and honor show themselves by the calluses on his hands, the scars he proudly wears.  He has seen dark days, experienced real loss, real pain.  He has been pushed and pushed himself beyond the norms of comfort.

His patience shows in his resolve.  His diligence in his steadfastness.

The focus of his eyes is unwavering, like a lion.

When you ask a knight how to conquer your foes he can tell you many ways, depending on your position, your stature, your aptitude.  He can show you exactly what you need to know, no fluff.

So when you want to conquer your mind, overcome your shortcomings, cast aside your fear and doubt, do you ask a squire or a knight?

Of course nowadays everyone thinks they are a knight.  Put them in the middle of a battlefield though and then we can really determine the merits of their practice.  




Friday, June 28, 2013

Who's the Muse?

What is the source?  Where does it come from?  How do you do it?

The answer to those questions depends on the artist and their art.  If your art is the practice of bodhicitta- the wish to bring about the benefit of others through generosity, love and kindness, then your muse is reality.  It is the interactions that take place, the conversations that unfold, the stories that are shaped like the convergence of the wind and leaves.

It is random and unpredictable, but if your mind is open and receptive you will be surprised at what you can hear.

You'll discover an unending stream that continuously unfolds, presenting you with opportunities to give gifts that matter, to practice your art. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No Excuses.

This vehicle operates under the assumption that you are busy.  That you have a lot of responsibility.  That you have others that rely on you and that you need to take care of.  

You already carry a heavy burden.

Your life is not perfect.  It's messy.  You have real wounds, they might even still be bleeding. 

So that is our basic requirement.   That is our ground zero.

Other vehicles might ask you to give it all up.  To walk away, leave it behind.  Escape it all together.  They might ask you to start over, start fresh.

Here, take a reprieve.  A 'Get Out of Jail-Free' card.

That might work, maybe.  My bet is that it won't though.

Better to deal with what we have.  This situation that we are in, it might not look so good.  It is heavy, it gets pretty tiring.  But it is not fixed, it is not permanent.  There is room here.  You can work with this. 

That is why we call this the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle. 

It is called great because it is greater in scope- fulfilling both your own aims and the aims of others.
It is called great because it is greater in aptitude- asking more from you.

We are asking more from you. 




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let Your Practice have Character.

If your practice is to simply recite the words or to do what everyone else is doing, then it is fake.  It has no depth, no character.

Let your practice take on a life of its own.  Let it be spontaneous, quirky, weird.  Let it be you.

Then as your practice develops and unfolds, you will develop and unfold.  As your practice becomes more pure and uncontrived, you will become more pure and uncontrived.  As your practice generates qualities of tolerance, love and compassion, so will you. 

If you put the work into your practice, it will change you. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gods and Demons.

Attachment and aversion.
Hope and fear.
Gain and loss.
Fame and blame.
Happiness and suffering.
Good and bad.

Which side do you feed?

We all have our gods and demons, both serve as hindrances on the path of liberation and prevent us from accomplishing our own aims and the aims of others.

We get attached to the gods, reinforce them.  Maintain them and they become the status quo.  Our path has stalled due to our own fixation.

We hide from our demons.  We run whenever they show their face.  Our hiding and fear entrap us and prevent us from going deeper, from moving on.  Our path has stalled due to our own fixation.

Cut through fixation and you liberate gods and demons simultaneously.  Shall we? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Do What You Want.

That seems to be the slogan of our day.  It also represents the hallmark of having obtained a life of freedom AND opportunity. 

In the process of doing what we want, we should also have a practice that is worth committing to.  A practice that we show up for and are accountable to, day in and day out, whether we have the time or not.

Our lives are all filled with busyness and distraction, but it is our commitment to our practice that brings us our intended result

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Everything is an Offering

What do you offer to the world and others around you?

Love, kindness, generosity.  Joy.  Contentment.  A helping hand and a caring smile.

Or do you offer division, gossip.  Judgement.  A careless hand and a smile of contempt.

Everything you do is an offering.  It has an effect on yourself and others.

You create your mind and your experience of the world around you.  Make it a good one. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Abundance

Generosity requires abundance, or at least the perception of abundance.  Which means that abundance is qualified by you and whether or not you feel you have anything to share. 

When most of us think of generosity we think of giving away our material wealth or possessions.  However, most of us have so much attachment to our money and possessions that we don't feel particularly generous.

There are other forms of generosity.

If you are training as an artist, someone who uses generosity, love and kindness to bring benefit to others and the world around them, then you have a lot of options to practice generosity.

You could share a kind word, a loving act, a simple gesture.  You could show up when people least expect it, you could do the work.  You could care, actually listen.  You could give people dignity when they feel they have nothing left to hold onto.

Give gifts that don't have a limit.

As you train, you can learn to cultivate abundance, but it is more important that you learn to recognize the abundance of wealth you already have. 

When you share this kind of generosity you get paid back in blessings.  And a life of abundance.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Go.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

What are you waiting for?

More time.
More information.
More resources.
More room.
Better conditions.
A nicer day.
Something else...

The sun is setting, your shadow is growing longer.  You never know how this opportunity will present itself tomorrow.  Better to act now.

Go.





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let's Talk Wine

Not many people know this but Washington is a veritable treasury of excellent wines.  You may have heard a few things about the region if you live outside of the Pacific NW, maybe you even tasted one of the mass distributed wines which don't really portray the depth and richness the region has to offer.  Most likely though, you have been missing out on these great and accessible wines.

Let's start with amazing.

There are five main AVA's in Washington, each further divided into smaller AVA's that demonstrate unique characteristics and produce prestigious wines.  More and more we are seeing terroir specific vineyards that produce the highest caliber wines, each displaying a depth and subtlety that differentiates it from other vineyards in the same region.  You have top rated vineyards like Cailloux, Champous, Ciel du Cheval, In the Rocks and Red Mountain which each produce amazing wines that lead to endless exploration, fascination and delight.  There are world class vintners like Quilceda Creek, Figgins Estate and Owen Roe producing cabernet.  Merlot by Long Shadows and Leonetti.  Syrah is really the break out star in Washington, with ingenious producers like Cayuse, Gramercy Cellars, Reynvaan and Rotie Cellars.  That is just the tip of the iceberg, time and time again their are accessible, vivid and distinct Rhone varietals, Bordeaux blends and Riesling after Riesling that will knock your socks off. 

And you can actually get most of these wines as opposed to similar quality California wines which have steep price tags, long waiting lists and seem to be more interested in their name and money.

Washington is forging a new frontier.  You have to taste these wines to experience it yourself.

This is an example of inspirational faith.

There is something about this story that might stir you, hook your attention and curiosity.  You may experience feelings of joy, hope or desire.  It might bring you to laughter, maybe even tears.  It inspires you. 

Yearning faith.

The next step is where you say, 'I want to do that'.  'I can do that'.  This is faith based on learning, contemplating and putting effort into your practice.  This is where you actually taste some of the wines and develop a first impression.

Confident faith.

This is based on your own experience.  You've tasted the wine, know its subtle aromas and flavors.  You know its mouthfeel.  You can distinguish the different regions and vintages, you've examined the unique characteristics of specific terroir.  You know both the immediate and lasting impressions.   Your practice can still go deeper, more subtle and profound, but you have developed certainty within your domain.

The Buddha taught that only confident faith is trustworthy.

In inspirational faith there is no knowledge, experience or conviction.  In yearning faith there is some knowledge and experience but no conviction, allowing doubt to creep in.  It is only in confident faith that we possess knowledge, experience and conviction.

It is this type of faith that we should develop, which means that we need to do the work.

You should come here, we can go wine tasting. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dedicate

How do you prevent days of uncertainty?

Dedicate.

Seasons of drought?

Dedicate.

Years from being wasted?

Dedicate.

How do we keep this stream of merit flowing?

Dedicate.

This river of virtue that carries oneself and others to the ocean of fulfillment?

Dedicate.

It may not be immediately obvious, but dedicating everything that you do to the welfare of others is extremely powerful.  Remove the borders to your practice.  Share the fruit of your actions.

How is the river of your actions flowing? 






Sunday, June 16, 2013

Perfecting Patience

It is not always clear why we should train our minds or how we should actually train in something like patience. 

What does an impatient mind look like? 

It is easily angered.  It is irritated, annoyed. 

It is averse- to the situation at hand and the people that we are dealing with. 

It is in a hurry, uncomfortable and anxious. 

If you enjoy the company of an impatient mind then there is no reason to train your mind.  If you want to remove these fetters that bind your mind, then meditation is the simplest and most effective means to perfect the practice of patience. 

In meditation, you learn to be patient with your body. 
Our bodies are uncomfortable.  We have a lot of aches and pains, a lot of tightness.  So we learn to be patient with our bodies, to not react to what our body is presenting to us, and the discomfort falls away. 

In meditation, you learn to be patient with your feelings.
We experience wave after wave of powerful and subtle feelings and emotions.  We feel good, we feel bad, we feel happy and sad, anxious and calm, tired and on edge.  So we learn to be patient with our feelings, to not react to what we are experiencing, and the discontent falls away.

In meditation, you learn to be patient with your mind.
We all have a monkey mind that can't sit still.  There is a never-ending stream of drama and internal dialogue, a parade of memories and fears, our hopes and dreams, doubt and insecurity.  So we learn to be patient with our mind, to not react to what our mind is presenting to us, and the discursiveness falls away.

In meditation, you learn to be patient with all that appears and exists. 
We encounter all kinds of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch, all kinds of experiences beyond measure.  So we learn to be patient with whatever appears and exists, to not react to what is presenting itself to us, and the dissatisfaction falls away.

As we work with these levels of developing patience, our practice culminates in fearless patience.  A state of authentic presence where we are fully open and willing to participate with whatever is occurring- whether it be external to us or in our own heads.

Our mind becomes like a crystal clear mirror that perfectly reflects whatever is placed before it, whether it is good or bad, beautiful or ugly.  There is no judgement, no aversion.  No indifference nor avoidance. 

It is a mind that is beyond fear and doubt.  Time and time again you are able to show up, allowing us the opportunity to act with generosity, love and kindness even in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

That is the perfection of patience.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Powerboat

Ours is a culture of achievement.  We wrap ourselves in a nice cocoon of materialism, image and identity.  These form the basis for how we interact with the world around us.

Our habit is to control.  We strive to get where we are going as quickly as possible.  In this sense we all want to travel the quick path, the powerboat that carries us to the far shore with the wind in our hair.  We trust that the boat has everything we need to get us where we want to go.  Oh, and we want to look good doing it.

Our habits form over long periods of time as a coping mechanism to deal with the world.  We have a lot of learned behaviors, some good, some bad; but we should examine our habits and determine if they actually bring our intended result.

Does control, materialism and achievement fulfill our aims?  Are you satisfied?

How does a sailboat travel to its destination?  What story does that tell?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Hardest Part is Over

You showed up.

That is actually the hardest part of your practice.  If you show up, then you can do the work.  You can continue to explore and go deeper.  The conversation can continue to unfold.

Our tendency is to hide.  To wait for someone else to do the work for us or give us a pass.  Maybe if we are lucky we can ride the wave of another's blessing.  Better to sit in the back and hope we are not picked.

So the only thing left is to continue to show up.

As you expose more and more of yourself, pushing through your perceived boundaries and the limits you have set, you will find that more and more falls away.  As more falls away, you continue to become more open, more patient, more kind. 

Your practice becomes an unending stream where everything is carried onto the path.  Drip, drip;)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What do you Do for a Living?

I am a pharmacist.  I count pills, verify prescriptions, talk to doctors, counsel patients on their medications and answer a lot of questions.  That is my job.  It is rather repetitive.  I am a replaceable cog in the healthcare industrial machine. 

You might be a teacher, engineer or programmer.  You might be a project manager, carpenter, scientist, paralegal, author, lawyer, or designer.  You might even be homeless.  You most definitely are a friend, a neighbor and maybe even a parent.

That is your form.

What if you were to train in the formless?

What if you trained in being open and receptive, trained to listen to the needs of others?  What if you trained in patience and generosity?  Love and kindness?  What if you intentionally cultivated focus and insight?  

Can you imagine in the course of doing your job that you could also do your art- which is to use reality, people and interactions as your canvas to share generosity, love and kindness.  To give gifts that don't have a limit.  To benefit others. 

Your job- which was repetitive and unfulfilling- could take on an infinite and endless potential.  It is a strange notion, but you could fulfill your aims and the aims of others simultaneously. 

That is work worth sharing.  And it pays dividends

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trim the Fat

Did you add a few extra pounds this year?  I did.

Are you going to get to work, train to get rid of them?

We all have our go-to programs- running, biking, lifting weights, cutting out the white carbs.  We know from our own experience what works and what doesn't.  If things aren't working, we will try something else and dig a little deeper.  You'll fight to make it happen.

You also know from experience that if you concede those ten pounds, those ten recruit their friends and it is a slippery slope from there.

Of course we are all carrying around some extra baggage in our heads- our stress, anxiety, fear, doubt and impatience.  Our neurosis.  You know it is there.  Don't be embarrassed, we have all it.

Do you do the work, do you train to get rid of it?

Not many people do.

If we concede it, that baggage will recruit its friends.  These are the kind of friends that party well into the night.  You'll wake up tired and crabby, meanwhile the baggage is off to a great start and is already recruiting more friends for the next party.

Your mind is extremely precious.  It is your most valuable asset.  Don't concede it just because you haven't learned how to train your mind and no one around you cares to try.  

So the next time someone asks if you work out, give them an emphatic 'YES, every day.' 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crossing the Chasm

Conventional wisdom says it is better to keep moving forward, one step at a time.  Don't give up any ground, don't lose that forward momentum. 

Especially when you are encountering the resistance

But now we know what the resistance really is.  Paradoxically, as we are plodding ahead one step at a time, our unwillingness to give up any ground actually feeds the resistance. 

The resistance hides in holding onto a ground.

So take two steps back. 

Be willing to be vulnerable, to expose your flaws.  Relax the tight grip on whatever it is that you are holding onto.

By letting go of your ground, the resistance has nothing to stand on.  You've opened up a shift in space

Now you can trust in the practice, step forward, and have the momentum to leap over the chasm. 

Welcome to the other side.