Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Go for depth.

How many new students want to go deep?

It is gratifying to get new faces in the door. To have new energy in the room. To see light bulbs turn on, connections built, impact made. But how many of those people keep digging for more?

Some come, get what they are looking for and go on their way.

Some come, build a strong connection and stick around for a long time. Years later they still ask the same questions, still have the same hangups.

Some come, and they come with a blaze. They eat up all they can, put in a huge amount of effort and energy, make significant contributions and build up a lot of trust and respect. And then they burn out and disappear.

Some come, and they put in the time and energy. They contribute, their questions evolve and become more nuanced, they keep digging. They keep showing up, year after year. Year after year, they become more integrated, take on more responsibility, are more generous and more patient. Their understanding deepens, and with depth comes breadth and subtlety. Connections are made, insight drawn out. They share, lift people up and make an impact on those around them.

Not every student can plumb the depths. Some don't have the capacity, some don't have the time, some just aren't in it for those reasons.

If you're lucky, you will find a few who go deep. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Feeding concepts.

When was the last time someone told you something that influenced and shaped your experience?

Do you find yourself being aware of this as it plays itself out?

Probably not.

We often think of ourselves as rationale coherent beings, experiencing the world through our lens of truth. We trust in our thoughts and emotions, believe that our perception is unerring, and value our discernment and judgement.

What we don't know is that much of what shapes our experience and perception is concepts that were planted long, long ago. Most of which we didn't even know were being planted.

Take my two year old as an example. My wife said she didn't like chicken pot pie. My daughter parroted her taste preferences, yet she has never had chicken pot pie. We have yet to find out how long this biased perception lasts.

Chicken pot pie isn't much of a big deal. It doesn't really matter if you like mustard or not, or if you prefer skim over whole milk.

But what about your concepts about race, sexual orientation and religion? What about your views about money, politics and human rights?

Most of what we call our ideas, opinions and preferences have been fed to us. Most often, we don't dissect and analyze those preferences too much, we think we came to them through our own merits.

Part of waking up means no longer trusting your own biased perception. You need to recognize that your perception is biased, that is a starting point. Your view isn't to be held onto. Your position isn't to be fortified. All of that is confusion.  We are confused.

Once you know that we are confused, then you can start the process of right view, right intention, right discernment. First, you need to be honest with yourself. Then you can start to be honest with others, and things get better.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Upcoming Meditation Workshop!

A Healing Yoga of Breath and Movement

Tsa Lung is a Tibetan healing yoga that works with the subtle body 
of the channels and winds using breathing techniques and physical movements. 
Learn the fundamentals of the practice, how the channels and winds 
affect the mind, and experience how the practice calms the mind 
and induces a natural meditative equipoise.
No prior meditation experience necessary, advanced students welcome.

Sunday, July 9
10 am - 12 noon

By donation (recommended $10)
1716 NW Market St 
Seattle, WA 98107


For more information contact Greg at

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Seeds, imprints and predispositions.

We all know how difficult it is to start habits. We would like to work out more, meditate, spend more time with our family or friends, learn to paint.  We want to eat healthier, be more productive, be more generous.

Starting is hard. Continuing is harder.

Even harder is eliminating the imprints of bad habits.

The Buddha taught that we need to purify our karma, afflictive emotions, cognitive obscurations and habitual tendencies if we are to be completely awake.  Karma is our actions, we need to practice virtue and try not to harm others.  Afflictive emotions are things like attachment, aversion, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance. Cognitive obscurations are the way we perceive self and other, our understanding of reality. Habitual tendencies refer to the impressions, seeds, or predispositions of our past thoughts, actions and experience. Habitual tendencies are mostly unconscious. Most people rarely even think about them much less try to change them. 

Think about your perception of food. Why do you perceive some foods as wholesome and good, whereas others you perceive as disgusting? My dog has no problem eating an old hot dog off the street. The concept of 'this might make me sick' is not one that my dog has (or my child!).

Think about your perception of your body. In Nepal it is common to see men holding hands, it is a sign of friendship and affection. In the U.S. people might think you were invading their personal space or question their sexual orientation. One might incorrectly wonder, why are all these monks gay!

Why do you perceive yourself as strong, or weak, beautiful or ugly? Why do you seek out affirmation, or hide in the shadows? What is it that makes you outgoing, or shy?

These are not easy questions to answer, and often there is no answer. But the question is important.

Once you start to ask the question, you can start the hard work of relinquishing your grasping and fixation to concepts about the way things are or should be. Letting go of concepts is how we break free from the tight hold that habitual tendencies have over our minds and hearts. Then, as those seeds ripen, we can recognize them and let them go.

There is a chance that in our experience, we might catch ourselves asking 'why?', or simply notice how strange our reaction is. Recognize it and let it go.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Knowing is not enough.

A treasure buried under the earth.
Honey encassed in a beehive.
A healing medicine.

If you don't know these exist, they are of no benefit to you. If you know they exist, but sit back and do nothing, they are also of no value to you.

You must dig out the treasure. You must carefully extract the honey. You must take the medicine.

Knowing is not enough. It's a start, but you need to act and you need to put in the effort. 

Effort is what makes the treasure useful. Effort is what allows you to enjoy the honey. Effort is what eliminates your pain and sorrow.