Monday, September 28, 2015


What supports your practice?

Your teacher.  Teachings to contemplate.  Your daily activities.  The community around you.

What challenges your practice?

Your teacher.  Teachings to contemplate.  Your daily activities.  The community around you. 

What's missing?

Friday, September 25, 2015

When do you decide?

Have you ever watched people trying to park in a parking lot?

Most people circle around the aisles trying to get the close spots, waiting for people to load there car and back out.  If nothing is open at the time they will swing back around and take another go at it, maybe get lucky. 

Why don't they just drive to the back of the parking lot and park?

Why not just do that right away?

Park.  Walk the extra distance.  Get started.

Maybe this isn't the right spot.  Maybe there are better spots out there to start.  Better places to be in, more conducive situations.  You might make a bad choice.

There are a lot of reasons to put off starting our practice.  Even more reasons to prevent us from going deeper.  At some point you just need to decide.

When do you decide?

Monday, September 21, 2015


I watched an interesting TED talk the other day by David Eagleman about how we experience the world.  David and his team are doing breakthrough research for deaf people using technology to allow deaf people to actually hear.  It's pretty amazing stuff what they are doing.   

In his talk he mentions the German word umvelt, which means the surrounding world.  David argues that our experience is constrained by our sense perception and that the reality that we experience is defined by the limits of our sense organs.  He also talks about what would happen if we use technology to increase our sensory experience, such as being able to directly perceive UV light or infrared light.

Would that increase in sensory experience expand our umvelt?  Would it lead to a more expansive experience of the world?

Surely.  Without a doubt.

But how does that actually benefit us?

When I was in college, me and my roommate got in a heated discussion with one of his friends about the use of LSD or other psychoactive drugs.  The basis of his argument was that our brain is wired to only experience reality a certain way and by taking drugs you could expand that experience and presumably gain something in the experience.

Is it our experience of reality that limits us?

It is without a doubt in my mind that we could experience more, indefinitely so.  We could experience an expanded visual consciousness, a wider auditory consciousness, a more subtle olfactory and taste consciousness, and a much more discerning perception of touch.  We could do all of those things.

All of this is based on the assumption that we have insufficient data or information, and that insufficiency limits us.  It limits our experience and our experience equals...what does more experience equal?

More experience could equal more humility, more awe and insight.  I think that is really the hope.  But truly, more experience usually equals more ego.  What if we could become like the gods and know all?  How marvelous would we be?  Our amazing experience would mean that we are amazing.  The significance of everything that we experience would translate to our lives being significantly significant.  We would find our lives meaningful.  Having experienced EVERYTHING, our lives would be fulfilled.  Maybe we would even finally feel satiated.

What really limits our experience is that we crave experience for our own sake.  Then we fixate on that experience of reality as true, having experienced it ourselves.

Craving and ignorance, those are our real inadequacies.

Craving keeps us in a cycle of consumption.  Ignorance fixates on me and mine.  Neither are fulfilling.  Both constrict our experience.   



Friday, September 18, 2015

The practice of compassion.

What do you think about when someone says to practice compassion?

Do you think about helping someone.  Lending a hand.  Tending to the suffering, feeding the hungry.  Do you think about a mother caring for her child.  A father picking up their child from an accident.

We tend to think of the practice of compassion as an act.

But what if the practice of compassion was to be open, available and responsive?  What if the act of compassion was to remain open, available and responsive?

The practice isn't about doing, it is about being.

Being open, available and responsive- you could help someone, lend a hand, tend to their suffering, feed them when they are hungry.

You could also simply maintain that space for them.  Be there, with them, not doing anything.  And not needing to.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Upcoming 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

The cup is clean.

There is a popular Zen saying:

Have you eaten your rice porridge? Then you had better wash your bowl.

I am not a Zen practitioner, never have been.  There are many layers of meaning that you could overlay on that advice and maybe there is a right interpretation, but here is one to think about:

The bowl is already clean.  

We don't wash away the bowl, we wash away the dirt and remnants of food.  We wash away that which is adventitious.  It is because the dirt and filth of our activity is not permanent that we can even wash it away.  

Our life is messy.  We are a mess most of the time, but our nature is pure.  Our buddhanature has never been contaminated.  The nature of our mind is already perfect, just as it is.  

So we practice.  We don't practice to improve our nature, our nature is already perfectly manifest.  Our nature is a perfect vessel.  We practice to remove that which is adventitious and recognize our original condition.  We remove the filth and the extraneous.  The result of our practice is that we are left with our originally pure condition.  

We can learn to rest in our genuinely pure nature, our clean vessel, our fundamental condition.  Then as we go through our days collecting dirt, we don't get too hung up on the filth because we know it is momentary.  

Start each day with a clean vessel.  We can do our work, go about our activity, fulfill our function.  We can get dirty.  We can make mistakes, poor choices and even feel nourished by what we share.  

Then, wash your bowl.  Rest in your originally pure condition.    

Monday, September 14, 2015

The best thing about past karma.

Most of the time we look at our karma as a burden.  We are conditioned by all of our past decisions, actions and experiences, and perhaps we look back and wish how things could be different.

The best thing about our karma is that it has brought us to where we are today.

All of that hardship, pain and misfortune has brought us here, now.
All of those problems, lessons and bad decisions have allowed us to stand here, awake, at this moment.
If we had done things differently, we wouldn't be who we are right now.  Maybe we would still be asleep.

Maybe we needed to learn something through all of that pain and hardship.
Maybe we needed to work through something.
Maybe what we have to share is hidden in that struggle.
Maybe the wisdom needed to truly benefit others had to be experienced directly. 

So today, everyday, is a grand juncture.  We are the total sum of our past decisions and actions, and what we do with that now determines what and who we will be in the future.

The choice is up to you.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What informs our intentions?

What informs our intentions and aspirations?

Hope for gain, fear of loss.
Concern for praise or blame.
Striving for happiness or avoiding pain and dissatisfaction.
To be famous, or insignificant.

Those are the eight worldly concerns, which invariably inform many of our decisions and actions.  The Buddha taught that our karma is based on our choices and the actions that it produces.  We all want to be happy, to have stability and accomplish our aims, but what informs our intentions keeps us bound in the cycle of suffering and dissatisfaction.

We want to choose actions that produce happiness, but our choices are informed by the causes of suffering.

We are informed by hope and fear for the eight worldly concerns.  Our choices are conditioned by attachment and aversion, ignorance, jealousy and pride.  Biased perception clouds our vision.   

With that information, it is a miracle that we ever make a good decision.

But we do. 

One of the best choices we can make is to practice, because all that that poor information is easily removed through practice.  Clarify your practice, let your practice clarify you. 


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I choose happiness.

I choose happiness.

But it's not that simple, is it?

Despite our best intentions, we have all these negative emotions to deal with.

Despite our best effort, we have all these bad habits that reinforce and influence our actions.

Even when we think we have all the information needed to make a good decision,
we suffer from short sighted vision and biased perception.

We really want to choose happiness, but we cannot do that until we clear our heads, learn to control our emotions and start to see more clearly.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Tibetan: Sempa
English: volition, to will, intention, a choice

The variety of the world arises from karma, 
Karma is volition and that which is produced through volition.
Volition is mental action,
it gives rise to two actions, bodily and vocal action. 

Our lives are created through action, both the individual and collective.  The key to understanding karma is to understand that it is a choice.  We made that decision and we are responsible for its result. Our intention gave rise to our actions and our actions determine our reality.  

Karma is simple.  It is living with the results of our choices that is not.   

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


We spend a lot of time and effort to make ourselves comfortable, secure, safe.  That notion of comfort and safety really pulls on our hearts and minds, maybe because we think we can do what we really want to do once we have it secured.

But there is something to be said for being exposed.

Raw. Naked. Vulnerable. Exposed to the elements. To pain and adversity.  There is something about being exposed that makes us feel alive.

I don't know if other people get the feeling that they want to be exposed to the raw elements. 

I know I do.

Do you?