Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Absence of denial.

Some turn off the news,
lock their door.
Some look down at their phone,
pretend like they didn't hear.
Some busy themselves with important things,
"I'd like to but I don't have time."
Some shift the blame,
believe a conspiracy or claim no control.
Some are paralyzed by fear,
others by indifference.

A few, the rare ones, have the courage to witness, to listen, to hold the space.

The courage to be vulnerable, to be open to pain and suffering.  To stand for a moment with uncertainty and fear.  To sit with discord and irritation.  To wait, when its easier to run and hide.

Terrible things happen everyday.  There is no end to the pain and struggle.  It takes courage to hold that sadness in your hands, to feel it course through your life, and to keep practicing anyways.

As long as space remains, 
as long as sentient beings remain, 
May I too remain, 
to dispel the misery of the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015


No one likes to have their freedom taken away.  No one likes to have limits placed on them, on their ability, on their choices.  No one likes to be bound and confined to a limited space.

Yet, we do it to ourselves all the time.

We are bound by concepts.  We get ourselves tied up in thoughts.  We become restrained by our own narrative.  We become a captive stuck in solitary confinement, our own confinement and we are the tormentor.  It is a strange phenomenon indeed that we become a victim to ourselves.

But how does this happen?

Grasping and fixation.  We fixate on thoughts as real.  We grasp to ourselves as real.  When both ourselves and thoughts are perceived as concrete things, we easily slip into bondage.

Of course, right now it is pretty easy to dismiss the idea that we fixate on thoughts as real.  Of course thoughts aren't real, they come and go and not a one of them has ever lasted.  Reason and logic can easily refute this proposition of them being real and only a fool would think otherwise.  Yet, time and time again we fool ourselves, because when bad things happen and when we don't control the situation, everything seems real.

Then our thoughts become demons.  Real demons.  Demons with fangs and colors and imminence.

Reason and logic serve us no benefit when we are bound in confinement with our own demons.  Reason and logic might even serve to reinforce our demons due to our own grasping and fixation.  So we don't move.  We sit there helpless and scared, waiting for the darkness to pass.

What choice do we have?

Meditation opens you up to the experience of thoughts as illusory, like clouds that come and go through the spacious sky.  This definitely helps loosen the chains, but it doesn't undermine grasping and fixation completely.

Introduction to the nature of mind opens us up to the experience of the true nature of mind and the nature of phenomena.  This undermines fixation and grasping at the root, but carrying this understanding from the cushion into the real world takes perseverance and dedication.

Introduction to rigpa zangthal, transparent awareness, opens us up to the groundless nature of mind in which thoughts have no legs to stand on.  Even as thoughts and demons arise, what can they do?

Unbound.  Not afraid to dance with demons.  The highest yoga, Dzogchen. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


There is a certain myth that some people are susceptible to regarding their own practice.  It tends to draw people in, hooks them, ushers them along so they keep going. 

It is the myth that your practice will make you a better person.  The myth that you will be redeemed, made to be of value.  It is the myth of the conceivable but not the reality, the fanciful stories we tell ourselves about who we could be as we regale ourselves with stories of immortality.  Many follow that myth for years, working to be better, to fit reality with their vision, to be more happy.  Really they are working to cover up the self-judgement and contempt that pervades our life.

The myth lives on in a self-centered practice.  You are the practice, and the fruition you seek is a more complete you.  But you can't win, because from the very beginning you have created a chasm that cannot be crossed and every misstep confirms your failure.   

The practice you need is the one that makes you human.  The one that enables you to walk with pain, to sit with uncertainty and to dance with fear.  Practice so that you might be more kind to others, that you might extend your hand because you are able.

Let the fairy tale fall apart.  Let the masquerade come to an end.  The myth may have brought you here, but you don't need to keep believing it.

A true practice opens your heart and your mind, and you can experience that to be true.    

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Too intense.

Is this situation too intense, or are your emotions too intense?
Is this problem too difficult, or is your aversion too difficult to deal with?
Is this conflict too volatile, or is your anger out of control?
Is this challenge too hard, or is the story your telling yourself about it too hard?
Is this too scary, or is your fear too real?

What is outer, what is inner?  What is in the environment, what is in your mind?

What can you try to change? 

How do you bring about that change?

Can you do that?

What additional resources and skills do you need?

Go get them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time to care.

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are just too busy to care.  Maybe you are dealing with a different problem and it is not convenient right now.  Maybe this is something that you should care about, but right now it is too hard.  Screw it, toss in the towel, ruin it, who gives a damn.  Right?

Do you only care when it fits your schedule, when you've had time to prepare, when it is on your terms?  Is that really caring at all?

What about when people aren't part of your tribe, your group, your religion or party?

Caring means you put aside your trip and your agenda for this person in front of you.  Caring means you are here, when you could easily be somewhere else.  Caring means you showed up.  Caring means you put in the effort, you gave something, you actually listened.

Caring is never easy, it is emotional heavy labor.  You need to muster patience, fortitude, perseverance and grit.  You need to know how to work with your own anger and aversion.  You need to be comfortable being open and receptive.

If you are looking for signs of accomplishment in your practice, look at what happens the next time you are in a situation where it is too intense to care. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In search of meaning.

Tibetan: དོན་ 'don'
English: meaning, purpose, function, benefit, significance, substance, truth

Many of us struggle to find meaning in what we do.  We spend our days in busyness and distraction, propelled by to-do lists and deadlines.  We have this sense that we need to find meaning by doing something, accomplishing something. 

We ascribe a lot of meaning to little things that come and go, but that meaning doesn't really stick around too long.  We push to the finish and enjoy a moment of achievement, but that achievement lacks the substance to fulfill a greater purpose or meaning. 

We all have a relative experience of meaning in our lives, the meaning that we ascribe to our work, to our family and friends, to the places we live and the places we love to visit.  But what is truly meaningful? 

I would like to think that it is impacting another life.  Leaving an imprint, bringing about transformation, causing a shift in that person's continuum.  If that were the case, the meaning of our life and work is truly established in others.  They are the carriers, the holders, the substance.  They have names and faces and stories.  Some you have known for moments, some for ages. 

The hard part of finding what is truly meaningful is that you never really know.  You never really know how you have impacted others, how your generosity and kindness has shaped them.  You can never be sure, but you do it anyway. 

Hoping that what you are doing is meaningful is selfish, fear that it is insignificant is also selfish.  Free from hope and fear, genuinely pursue connecting with and benefiting others and the work you do will have substance. 

Friday, April 10, 2015


What is the origin of our universe?  Was it created by a god?  Was there a big bang?  How did it come to be?

The Buddha taught that worlds arise and collapse due to action, or karma.  They arise dependently, not independently.  They arise and fall continuously, without beginning and without end. 

Within each of those worlds, infinite worlds unfold.  There is no limit to space, no center and no border.  Within the macro there is micro, and within the micro you will find macro.  These infinite worlds interact in endless ways such that where one starts and the other ends is indeterminate. 

And yet we feel trapped.  We feel trapped in our situation.  Our world feels stuck and static, like a prison.  What binds us is our habitual tendencies, negative emotions and thought patterns.  We are bound by erroneous views and biased perception.

There are those on the path whose sole motivation is to break free from this cycle.  They want out, they want it to be done. 

Then there are others who see that we can create something else. 

Our actions create the world and influence innumerable worlds.  Our path becomes one in which benefiting others and unlocking their own insight fulfills our path of awakening.  Our particular situation is not seen as a prison, but as an opportunity for awakening.  It is our naturally formed world in which we can enact benefit, in which we have potential to impact others.

And yet, neither here nor there, nor anywhere, have any of these worlds ever truly existed for a moment.    

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Worldly concerns.

The Tibetan for 'worldly' is འཇིག་རྟེན་ 'jigten'.

'jig means perishable, breaks down, disintegrates.
rten means to support or rely upon.

What we consider worldly concerns are concerns that rely upon that which is perishable, that which breaks down and disintegrates.  Why concern yourself with that which is perishable?  Why invest so much time and effort in that which is invariably going to fall apart?

Gain or loss.
Praise or blame.
Fame or insignificance.
Happiness or suffering.

Don't concern yourself with them.  Instead focus on acting on the causes of happiness and eliminating the causes of suffering.  Focus on generosity, kindness and compassion.  Focus on being patient and sincere.  Focus on connections and interactions that don't have a limit, focus on benefiting others.  

That transcends the world.  It is beyond this world.  It is supramundane and it can be part of your day.   

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dzogchen Weekend Retreat.

Join us as we welcome the Venerable Younge Khachab Rinpoche back to
Seattle.  Rinpoche will be presenting the Dzogchen teachings according to their view,
meditation and action.   Rinpoche will share these teachings, his experience and their
practical application with keen awareness of 21st century Western life and demands.  This
weekend workshop will provide direct and practical advice on immersing yourself
in meditation and integrating your meditation practice with your daily life.

May 16-17, 2015
Saturday and Sunday 10-12pm and 2-5pm

515 N 64th St 
Seattle, WA 98103

Please contact for work study options. 

Contact Greg Patenaude for more details at:
Join us on Facebook Younge Drodul Ling-Washington

Monday, April 6, 2015


Without concern for praise,
or blame,
without worrying about potential gain,
or what you might lose,
not doing it for fame,
and not afraid of being insignificant,
free from the hope that this will make you happy,
and not bound by the suffering and pain you will experience.

This is the unfettered mind.  The mind of crazy wisdom free from all worldly concerns.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Those before you.

Lineage is important.  It is important in many things and it often gets brushed over, but lineage plays a special significance in the transmission of the Buddha's teachings. 

Lineage ensures a living transmission.  It ensures communication on a personal level, heart to heart, mind to mind.

Lineage is most often traced through one's root teacher.  We all have many teachers in life, but one's root teacher is the one that introduces us to our own nature of mind.  This direct introduction to our own buddhanature is what forms the basis of our path.  We walk the path infused with their blessings.

My own root teacher is Younge Khachab Rinpoche.  Rinpoche trained with many teachers in the monastic tradition as a child, but it wasn't until he met and trained under the Dzogchen yogi Dingri Khenchen that he experienced the subtlety and profundity of the nature of the mind. 

Dingri Khenchen was a great scholar and teacher at Dzogchen Monastery in his youth and spent the great part of his life in secret retreat.  He was affectionately called grandfather by everyone but he was a realized practitioner and scholar. 

Dingri Khenchen was a student and disciple of the great Khenpo Kunzang Palden (Khenpo Kunpal).  Khenpo Kunpal was one of the foremost holders of the Longchen Nyingtig lineage and was renowned for being a great practitioner and scholar.

Khenpo Kunpal was the disciple of Patrul Rinpoche, the wandering yogi and preeminent Dzogchen master.  Patrul Rinpoche's root teacher was Jigme Gyalwe Nyugu, who was the main disciple of Jigme Lingpa

That is the close lineage, close in the sense that you can still feel their warmth.  The extensive lineage can be traced all the way back to the Buddha through the succession of teacher and student. 

One heartfelt connection at a time, for thousands of years.