Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Metaphysics seems like a silly game that philosophers play.  A lot of words and argument without much substance.  It is tainted by the stain of intellectuality in an era where we are all entitled to our own opinions and ideas about what is right.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of phenomena, self and other, you and your reality.  It is an intellectual game and there are parameters that might aid in how you play it.

First, choose the object of analysis.  It could be a physical object, an action, your self, your perception, your mind.

Second, set the extremes.  Existence or non-existence.  Right or wrong.  Virtuous or non-virtuous.

Third, determine the middle way free from extremes.  Could something exist, but not truly exist?  Could you do something right, but it turn out to be wrong?  Is your virtue truly virtuous?

Meditate on the significance of this middle way beyond extremes.

Does this significance effect your perceptual bias?  Your cognitive bias?  Your emotional bias?  Does this significance effect your view of yourself, your reality?  What is your reality?  

The ultimate significance of metaphysical analysis is that we no longer need to maintain fixed reference points.  Fixed reference points make us suffer.  They are the root of dissatisfaction and discomfort.  Maintaining a fixed position gives rise to all kinds of problems and obstacles.  But what are we trying to maintain?

This silly game has the potential to uproot our own crazy mind.  We might realize that we are our own troublemakers.  We might realize our stubbornness is the root of our problems.  We might see the significance that our ignorance and bias is the root of our own suffering.

And then we might be able to leave it all behind.

But it is not enough to believe this.  You need to see it in your own life, in your own experience.  You need to examine your own perception and view.  You need to examine your own mind.  You need to actually play the game. 

Most of us aren't brave enough to do that, it's easier just to be right.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Transparent awareness.

A unique feature of Dzogchen is learning to recognize and abide in transparent awareness.  Awareness itself is not some thing.  It is not a state of mind that we cultivate.  It is completely open beyond description, beyond thoughts or concepts, beyond perception and value judgements.  It is utterly lucid, crystal clear, free of obscuration.  It is spontaneously present, free from the extremes of existence or non-existence, acceptance or rejection, is or is not.  It is non-dual, without distinction between self and other, inner and outer, this or that.

Why is it transparent?  Because there is no ground.  Why is there no ground?  Because everything that manifests is naturally freed in its own place, without having to do anything.  The unique feature of transparent awareness is liberation upon arising.  Liberation upon arising puts buddhahood within reach, maybe even right in the palm of your hand. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

There's truth in everything.

You push.  You struggle.  You fight back.  You stand your ground, affirm your position and your story.

No one seems to understand.

I know your story seems to be the right one.  I know you know the facts.  I've heard your side of the evidence and your logic to support your position.  It's all relatively true. 

We all have our own version of the truth.  As long as we recognize that fact, that it's relative, then we can keep working and adapting.  It's when those relative truths become real truths that we start to have problems. 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

My life, my work.

Those staying in that land benefit those living there, but are not truly existent.
Nevertheless, there is a need that they stay in that place benefiting those beings.
Attached and ultimately not attached are the form kayas;
Emptiness is inseparable from appearance.
From a Song for the King

This quote always has a way of sneaking up on me.  It speaks to my work, my life.  It sheds a sort of meaning, meaning which cannot necessarily be grasped conceptually but meaning that is there.  That we create.  

We create meaning in our work by doing work that is beneficial.  We don't need to stay there, but we do.  We are illusory shepherds, boatmen that come and go without a trace, timely reflections of generosity and compassion.  

Emaho!  Amazing, it is.   

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to work with anger.

How do we take anger as a guide?  How can we use it skillfully?  When we see ourselves getting angry, we might be able to catch some insight into the path ahead.  

You are in this situation, this conflict, this struggle and you can either figure it out or get swept away in it.  You can resolve it or escalate it.  You can pacify the problem or you can blow it up.  You can minimize the damage or you can involve everyone who could possibly be involved.  Cool it or heat it up.   

So you are faced with a choice.  When you are angry, do you apply the principles of your practice or do you escalate the problem? 

Part of this is failing.  You will get angry.  You will lose your temper.  You will snap back.  Don't beat yourself up.  But do look closely, when anger showed is ugly face, was there a moment when you tried to work with it?  Were you able to dance with it, just for a bit? 

Fail. And fail.  And fail some more.  It is worth the effort to keep practicing. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Hard to fight the urge.

It is hard to be patient when you have a full bladder.
It is difficult to focus and do your best work when you haven't eaten all day.
It is a challenge to be kind when you are stressed out and running short on time.

No one ever plans on getting angry.  It just happens so fast and it is hard to fight off the urge.  It is usual and customary to prepare ourselves by going to the bathroom, making sure we have eaten and giving ourselves the time we need to do things right.  We prepare our bodies and our environment, why don't we prepare our mind?

Practice.  Meditate.  Generate compassion and kindness.  Set your intention.  Focus. 

These will enable you to fight off anger and aversion.  They'll even help with a full bladder and an empty stomach too!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where does clarity go?

Clarity is a natural characteristic of our mind.  In its natural condition it is like a mirror in which we can see perfectly without distortion.  Clarity is by its very nature vivid and unobscured.  It has a transparent quality, allowing us to see connections and draw out implications. 

When we meditate, we are trying to cultivate a calm and clear mind.  Many people are drawn to a calm mind, because it is peaceful and provides a respite from the normal turmoil and stress of our day.  When we calm the mind in meditation we discover its natural clarity, just as when clouds disperse the clear and open sky is revealed to be naturally present. 

So where does clarity go?

We lose clarity in two ways.  Dullness and agitation.

The first is dullness.  We sink into darkness, laziness and the murkiness of ignorance.  Clarity becomes shrouded in narrow views and biased perception.  We experience this loss of clarity as a sinking dullness and sleepiness.  It is something to be abandoned. 

The other way we lose clarity is in agitation.  When clarity becomes too intense it leads to restlessness and agitation.  We can experience this as a proliferation of thoughts or dialogue in our heads.  We may also experience this as physical and emotional agitation, such that we want to turn away from the intensity, get up, get away. 

That subtle level of aversion is the basis of anger. 

When the situation gets too intense we often don't know how to sit with it.  We have lost that transparent quality of clarity and now things seem real.  Very real.  We start to struggle.  We push back.  We react.  We want to know the answer, but often we don't have time to think.  We can't see the answer and sometimes even if we can it is too risky.  Better to be safe, better to run and hide. 

What other option do we have?

Train your mind.  Learn to work with clarity.  As we become more aware of the transparent aspect of our own mind we won't fixate so heavily on our experience.  We will cultivate a little wiggle room, a little room to keep working.  At first it might not be much, but it might be just enough.  Enough to make a difference. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Containing violence.

Every action takes place in a supporting environment.

Let's take a look at that support.  It depends on the place, the people present, the contributing factors and conditions.  Nothing is isolated.

So are we containers for violence?

Terrible things happen every day, things that are not our fault and things that we didn't do.  They are happening and we are not involved and not responsible, so we are innocent.  But are we innocent?  Are our hands clean?  Or is our innocence a contributing factor?  By doing nothing, are we acting as a container for which this aggression gets perpetuated?

The individual and the collective.  Not as separate as they seem.


Friday, March 6, 2015


Non-wrong doing

But non-violent doesn't mean you have to be passive.  You can be:
Stand your ground


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When do we let go?

We have all been hurt in the past.  We have been wronged, disrespected, mistreated.  Some of us have experienced small slights, some offenses have been traumatic and left wounds that are still open. 

When do we let that pain go?  Does holding onto it serve us in any way that is beneficial?

Holding onto it continues to fuel the fire.  We relive it.  We talk ourselves through it and try to imagine how it could have changed or been different.  It is our wound, and we are holding onto it. 

When do we let it go? 

Not let it go and pretend it didn't happen.  When do we let go of what we think life would be like without the wound.  When do we let go of the fantasy that the wound will stop impacting our life. 

You have a wound.  We all have our wounds.  They are tender, raw, and vulnerable.  We can sit with that.  We can work with that.  That is work worth doing. 

We spend so much time trying to cover up our wounds, hide them from the world and pretend like they don't exist.  But they do exist, in all of us.  They make us human.  They provide an opportunity for us to look into our own suffering and connect with the suffering of others. 

When we are truly open to having our wounds be exposed, then we realize the impact of harming another living being.  Then we can start to commit to doing no harm.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Tinder for the flames.

What are your attachments?  They are tinder for the flames of anger.

Worry about what others think of you?  The smallest slight to your name and anger boils.
Worry about winning the next project?  Any gains by your competitors put you in a frenzy.
Have to control your environment?  Any wrinkle or slip and your are caught up in a fit.
Your welfare more important than others?  Everyone presents a battle to be fought.

What are you holding, what are you guarding, what are you demanding and expecting?

It's all tinder, waiting to be set to flame by the smallest of sparks.