Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The hard part.

The intention is easy.  The aspirations and prayers increase your enthusiasm.

The hard part is maintaining a joyful practice of generosity.
The hard part is sustaining vigilance without getting caught up in mundane concerns.
The hard part is working with all of the obstacles, problems and distractions that come up.

It's easy to want to set out for the far shore.  It's much harder to get there. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Just give.

Far down the road,
well beyond what the eye can see or the ear can hear,
something remarkable is going to happen.
You may never know it,
often no one will make the connection,
but a gift leaves a ripple.
It bears fruit, even after many seasons.
It opens doors,
turns on lights,
blazes trails,
reveals a gap,
makes an impression.
No one knows where that doorway will lead,
or who will take it.

Don't wait on gifts as an investment.  Just give. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I know this life will come to pass.

Morning dew beneath your toes.
Light rays of sunshine, illuminating worlds.
Gentle breeze, rustling leaves.
Drip by drip,
Deep pools of samadhi.
A slow meandering walk, going nowhere,
holding hands,
big step, another step.
Way to go.
A smile, a glance, a friendly wave.
Doors open.
Off to work, working,
hurried, intense, what am I forgetting?
Panting dog, a warm cuddle.
Engine roars, silence.
Excitement, laughs,
tending, caring, picking up the pieces.
Holding, waiting,
there you go.
Rising moon.
Moments lasting eons,
hours gone in a flash.
Coming, going,
Inhale.  Exhale.

I know this life will come to pass.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A single intention.

Intention is important. 

What if your intention was the foundation upon which you could cultivate all other activities?  What if it could serve you during times of hardship and prosperity? 

We all of many intentions, some come and go, some stick around for awhile.  We often have mixed intentions because lack clarity and focus.  We want to work out more, but on the weekends we also want to have fun, so which is it? 

Bodhicitta is the basis of the path.  It is the intention that allows us to bring everything onto the path.  It is the fertile ground that allows our labor to bear fruit.  It is a single intention, a clear and focused intention, yet it encompasses everything and everyone.

May I attain complete awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grab a shovel.

Answers don't allow us to go deeper.  Questions do.

As we process and contemplate the information available to us (and it's all available to us), we need to learn to ask better questions.

Ask a question.  Find an answer. 

Answers give you a resting point, a place to contemplate and a ground to dig deeper.

Questions are the shovel that opens up space for further exploration.  Don't sit on your laurels, grab a shovel. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The path from here to there.

There is a path between the present and where you envision yourself in the future.  It might look like this:


A is the present, our current condition, what is real.  B is the result, the future or ideal.  Most people focus on the B.  Your B might be happiness or success, fame or fortune, family or fitness, or maybe even (B)uddha. 

It's easy to focus on the B.  To strive for attainment, for the result.  Everything around us is telling us to set our goals and to hit our mark.

But take a close look at the path (it's the hyphen!).  A life is in there.

There are good days and bad days, victories and defeats, friends and obstacles.  There are opportunities to be focused, and opportunities to deal with resistance.  There are moments to be generous, and moments to be overwhelmed by negative emotions. 

The path is where all of the transformation occurs.  The path is the conversion process that draws out all of the qualities and characteristics we are hoping to be present at the time of the result. 

The path is the gift that we get to share through our life and energy. 

We tend to experience a lot of dissatisfaction and discontent on the path, but that dissatisfaction and discontentment are due to our own perception of the path and our fixation on our desired result.

What if we shifted our posture, and focused on the practice of the path instead of the attainment of some future state?  That hyphen holds a lot of potential, we should make the most of it and also take joy in the opportunity that is present for us.  We have a lot to share. 

Monday, August 15, 2016


The Buddha’s footprints are one if the earliest representations of the Buddha. During the early dissemination of the Buddha’s teachings, the Buddha’s feet signified the Buddha’s presence, representing his enlightened form; the Dharmachakra represented his enlightened speech and the stupa his enlightened mind. Depictions of the Buddha’s feet have long been objects of veneration and respect, people would make offerings to them just as though they were the Buddha himself. The Buddha’s feet can also present us with another symbol:

‘I, the Tathagata, the Teacher,
Reveal to you the path that stops the pains of existence;
You must follow it.’
From the Udana-varga

In this way, the path is through the footsteps of the Buddha, footsteps that signify authentic presence, taking your stand against ignorance  and negative emotions, and embodying the Dharma in scripture and realization. In this way, the Buddhapada represent not only the destination, but also the very path.

‘As I practice following in your footsteps,
I pray you approach to confer your blessings’
from the Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche

These are footsteps that transcend the confines of time and place, footsteps that are unerring and true. They are footsteps that are meant to be followed.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The power of bodhicitta.

Being clear, it gives us direction.
Being stable, it manifests in various ways.
Being expansive, it is present.
Being formless, it gives shape to our life.
Benefiting many, it fulfills our aims.
Benefiting oneself, it accomplishes the aims of others.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A better version of yourself.

You are an individual.  You are a father, a mother, a son or daughter.  You are a partner, a friend, a student and a teacher.  You have a profession, hobbies, passions and curiosities.  You might be young or old, beautiful or well worn, trendy or old-fashioned. 

You are all of those things, and none of those things are you.

You've ridden on the highest of highs, sailed through the lowest of lows.  You have hopes and fears, ideas and aspirations.  You have stories you tell yourself when you are in a slump, and stories you tell yourself when you are basking in the limelight.

You are all of those things, and none of those things are you.

You are a mosaic.

You are millions of pieces of broken bits, shards of glass and shattered pieces gathered over lifetimes of moments, actions and interactions.    

You are an aggregate of stones, some white, some black, amassed over mountaintops and rolling hills, through dense forests and sandy beaches, across good times and bad in cities and villages that have come and gone.  Tiny pieces brought together from your youth, through aging and sickness, pain and suffering, opportunity and loss. 

People will want to take pieces of you, pieces to call their own.  Let them.  Those shards are not your own and scars and imperfections enhance your beauty. 

You will be judged and you will judge yourself.  Judged for your form, for how you come together, criticized for your proportions and the depth of your character.  It's okay to listen to judgement, for it voices what is real to what is the ideal.  Not necessarily your ideal, but an ideal not yet embodied and probably not found. 

You are dynamic, constantly changing.  A continuous process of transformation, gain and loss, old and new, death and birth.

You will likely spend years, maybe even a lifetime, trying to piece together the broken shards into a picture that makes sense.  You'll try as you might to figure it out, to make it more beautiful or more meaningful, all in the search of a better self. 

It is my hope, indeed my greatest aspiration,
that someday before you are lying on your deathbed,
that you will not suffer from grief or regret. 
That you will simply rest.
The continuum of time and space embodied in the present
as a collection of millions of broken bits,
bits that don't make sense and some that do,
all of them coming together in a beautiful moment,
a moment of joy, rapture, tenderness and forgiveness.
A moment of gratitude and appreciation, wonder and awe. 
Where you discover a better version of your self.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Technicians, Artists and Alchemists

Chances are your work falls into one of three categories:

The Technician.
The technician is precise, focused and determined.  They are masters of their trade, know the details and the connections.  Their depth of understanding is profound and inspiring.  Ask a technician a question and he will give you an answer backed with experience and reasoning.  Technicians are very straight forward and matter of fact.

The Artist.
Artists are masters of their craft who are generous by nature.  They use their trade to make an impact in people's lives.  They are visionaries, leaders, ruckus makers.  The artist isn't in it for the status or power, they are in it because they see an opportunity to impact change and they are willing to step into the void.  

The Alchemist.
Alchemists are enigmatic artists.  You find them in strange circles, unfit places, unseemly professions.  Alchemists are masters of change and transformation.  Their art doesn't make sense to us, often times we don't see it or even believe it to be true.  Their art is lived, worked over.  They do the same thing day in and day out, perfectly content to keep plodding along, yet timelessly free and relaxed.  The enigma of the alchemist doesn't lie within them, it lies within us.

Technicians are too focused on the mechanics of their own practice.
Artists are too focused on the result and ensuing benefit.
Alchemists are free of attachment and the eight worldly concerns.  For them, the result is the path. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ripened fruit.

What do you do with ripened fruit?

You make use of it.

You eat it, cook something, give it to someone so they can enjoy it.  Otherwise, it goes to waste.

If your mind is ripened, if you have confidence and certainty, if you understand the practice and the path, then it is time to put it to use.

Fail to use it now and it could go to waste.  Don't make the mistake of holding onto a ripened fruit until it goes bad. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I can't see the path.

If you can't see the path, you aren't going to be able to walk it.  

This path that we are on, this way of life and the intention that we carry day to day, its all really new to us.  We look around our family, our workplace and community and we don't see a lot of examples of how to walk the path. 

So you need to search out the path.  You need to find those that have gone before. 

Read the life stories of past masters.  Read the life story of present day practitioners.  Listen to the stories others share. 

There is a wealth of inspiration and wisdom in these stories.  Experience and wisdom that shed light on our own path so that we can forge ahead.  

Your path won't be like theirs, and it doesn't have to be.  But if you find yourself totally lost and without aim, maybe reach for a biography or two. 

Here are a few I have enjoyed:

Longchen Rabjam

Jamgon Kongtrul