Monday, August 31, 2015

Compassionate activity.

Compassionate activity doesn't mean that you need to be emotional. 
You don't need to shed a tear to show you care.

Compassionate activity means being open, receptive and present.
It means be generous with your presence,
disciplined enough to not react with carelessness,
patient enough to sit with the resistance,
and that you persist in doing the emotional hard work of caring.
Without wavering in the face of problems and obstacles,
and with the insight to see the connections between the agent, action and patient,
you can engage in perfect compassionate activity.    

Friday, August 28, 2015

Upcoming Meditation Workshops.


Join us for a practice intensive.  Receive meditation instruction,
ask questions, engage in discussion with other practitioners. 
Clarify your practice.  Let your practice clarify you.

Sunday September 27, 2015
10am - 12pm 

Sunday November 8, 2015
10am - 12pm
1716 NW Market St 
Seattle, WA 98107
Suggested donation $10

For more information contact Greg at

Monday, August 24, 2015

Following in their footsteps.

In the beginning, we give our teacher our attention and interest
by listening, contemplating and deepening our understanding.

In the middle, out of respect and devotion we offer them our support-
investing our time and energy because of the impact their teachings have had on us.

In the end, it is our responsibility to preserve and share the teachings,
so we choose to embody the teachings, to become their working basis.
That is the way of commitment and generosity, the way in which we follow their example.
This is the greatest offering we can make to our teachers

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


She is open, responsive, all-embracing.
She is without border or limit.
She is receptive, always available, even vulnerable.
She has a natural grace, a timeless presence.
Naturally radiant yet confidently grounded,
she is compassion.
As compassion she abides.

Her activity is her expression,
yet she is fully manifest without action.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Tibetan: trulpa
English: confusion, deception, misperception, distortion

Confusion is a false way of seeing the world.  It is misapprehending a situation, deceiving ourselves about what is really happening.  Confusion creates a lot of problems for us because it affects our actions and what we stand for.  If our view is distorted, our actions are likewise misaligned and we experience more anger, more frustration and more fear.   Confusion polarizes us and our world. 

Confusion is really difficult to deal with because the confused person thinks they have knowledge.  A distorted view of reality makes no difference if it is the reality you experience and all the stories you tell yourself confirm that reality.

Confusion has its own logic, its own arguments and its own justification.

So how do we uproot it?

The first step is to understand that we all have a lens through which we see the world.  I have my own lens, you have yours.   When we realize that there is some shared basis between those two worlds that we can talk about and discuss, then there is some possibility that I can undermine my own confusion.   
Knowing the relativity of our own lens opens us up to the truth.  It opens us up to empathy and genuine understanding.  With empathy and genuine understanding we can reduce the distortion of our own lens and see the world more clearly.

We cannot change the minds of others.  We can only show them another lens and start to ask questions.  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Three cornerstones of your practice.


Discipline gives you structure.  It gives your practice form.  It provides reinforcement and direction. 
Meditation allows you to dig deeper, cut through the layers.  It allows you to let go, gain stability and clarity.  It is your workshop.
Wisdom allows you to make connections, draw out the implications.  It is insight and clear seeing.  It is direct, no BS. 

Discipline without meditation or wisdom and you become rigid, narrow minded and overly analytical.  You become confined, bound by rules.  You become like a well trained rat in a cage of concepts. 

Meditation without discipline and you lack the skills to act.  You are like a carpenter without tools, confident sure, but unable to construct anything meaningful.

Meditation without wisdom and you get stuck in absorption.  You are like a circus elephant in the mud- happy, joyful, relaxed- never wanting to leave.  All your pride has you confused and you forget that the circus still owns you.

Wisdom without discipline and you are like a madman, unable to connect and relate to others.

Wisdom without meditation is like a flash of lightening in the night, it will illuminate the darkness for a brief moment but it is unlikely to set anything ablaze. 

Monday, August 10, 2015


Tibetan: Lenpa
English: Grasping, clinging, fixation, hooked, to hold, to perpetuate

When we encounter a problem in our life- stress, anxiety, difficult situations or decisions- we think the problems themselves are the actual problem.  The problems are to blame for how we feel and how our day went.  You know, when something can go wrong it will go wrong.

And it does, all the time. 

But what if the problem wasn't the actual problem.  What if it was our fixation and grasping to the problem?  What if it was our habit of getting hooked and perpetuating the problem? 

Problems come and go all the time.  We can either fight them tooth and nail and let them continue to torment us and our sleep, or we can see them as reminders of why we need to continue our practice.

If we don't get hooked there is a chance we can work through them.  In that way problems offer us a chance at liberation

Friday, August 7, 2015

Meditation Workshop.

Meditation Workshop 

Join us for a practice intensive.  Receive meditation instruction,
ask questions, engage in discussion with other practitioners. 
Clarify your practice.  Let your practice clarify you.

August 16, 2015
Sunday 10am-12pm

1716 NW Market St
Seattle, WA  98107

Suggested donation $10
Please contact for more information.

Gregory 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 own teacher, Younge Khachab Rinpoche
Contact Greg at:

Helpless and Stuck.

As the mind develops, we move from a world of sensory perception to a world of causality.

An infants initial experience of the world is simply what it perceives in its immediate surroundings- its mother, father, sights, sounds, feelings, warmth, emotions, pain and hunger.  If the child does not experience something it does not exist.

This is wonderful because it is an immersion in experience.  It is simple, direct, empirical.

But an infant is helpless because it doesn't know what to do with the things it is experiencing.
Pain is pain.  Hunger is hunger.  Fatigue is fatigue.  Warmth is warmth.

An infant who is hungry doesn't worry about anything else.  At that moment, hunger is the child's world and it doesn't know how to fix that. 

A parent who cares knows how to soothe a baby and it teaches it how to soothe itself

Somewhere along its development, the infant starts to realize that things still exist even if they cannot directly experience them.  This is called object permanence and it marks the beginning of a rational, logical mind.  It is the beginning of a mind that can plan and act based on intention. 

This is a grand development, but not without its own problems. 

Neither of these two ways of perceiving the world are true seeing.  If your world is your experience and nothing else you are helpless, failing to understand the significance of cause and effect.  A world in which we operate within cause and effect but get wrapped up in its objects and we get stuck.

A parent who cares teaches their child how to get unstuck. 

Teach your child to get unstuck, how to solve a problem and how to avoid getting wrapped up in a mess.  With that skillset, their innate curiosity coupled with the ability to choose and act will carry them to places that you could never imagine. 

Which is pretty scary, as a parent.

That is why you need to teach them to get unstuck. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Object permanence.

Object permanence is a big development for an infant. 

Prior to the development of object permanence when things leave their field of perception they cease to exist.  Hide a toy, who cares- still happy and content.  Mother leaves the room, no worry here. 

Around six months of age children start to understand that things do exist when they leave the room.  Mom is gone, and that is a problem.  Why did you take away my toy, I was happily enjoying chewing on that.

This is a key development because it allows the child to develop an understanding of causality and learn to problem solve.  Object permanence allows for a rational, logical interpretation of reality.

What no one talks about is that object permanence also brings with it a host of emotional baggage. 

Hope and fear, attachment and aversion, gain and loss are all dependent on our expectation that things we want will stick around and things we don't want will go away.  The problems is that things that we want don't stay for long, and situations that bother us tend to stick around longer than we like. 

Our rational mind has little power over these strong emotions.

Object permanence is a big development for an infant, but many adults still struggle with the implications that it brings to their life.

When was the last time you were really well prepared with your plan, had it all worked out in your head, and then it fell apart.  How did you react?  How fixated were you on that object?

What is it that you are really hoping for?  What happens if none of it works out?

Are you going to be able to talk your way through it?  Do you really know how to work with your emotions when the going gets tough?  Or is anger and disappointment going to spill over into your day and your relationships?

Object permanence. 

What's the alternative?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Four thoughts that turn the mind towards genuine practice.

We are very fortunate to have this life,
to have some freedom and opportunity,
to have some leisure and resources.

This life has great potential.

But, it is also momentary.
The days, weeks and years keep moving faster.
This life is like a fragile vessel,
one in which we can cross a great sea,
but must be left behind upon reaching the far shore.

Which is why our actions are important.
Our thoughts and actions can lead us astray, change our course.
Our actions create our world and influence innumerable worlds.
Our situation is not a prison in which we are stuck,
it is an opportunity to liberate ourselves,
an opportunity for awakening. 

But time and time again we get hooked.
We get wrapped up in our problems.
Our minds become ensnared in fear and uncertainty,
giving rise to waves of negative thoughts and emotions.
We are plagued by discontentment and easily slip back into dissatisfaction.

We have the opportunity to care, to be generous and kind.
We have the potential to do something meaningful,
but we need to actually do the work.
We need to actually practice.

And we need to do it today.