Monday, September 26, 2016


When was the last time you found yourself struggling with a problem?

Did you search out the right tool for the fix? Develop a new tool?

Have you have tried to solve a problem with a tool that wasn't designed for the job?

There is a certain art to jerry-rigging.  A proficient craftsman can make use of a wrong tool and produce beautiful results.  With proficiency comes agility and innovation.

But what if you are not proficient?

An emerging craftsman attempting to jerry-rig a solution often ends up with a mess.  Or at best a solution that quickly unravels.

We often go through our days and weeks jerry-rigging solutions to problems when there are perfectly qualified tools for the job.  Tools we can acquire, learn, and master. 

As an emerging craftsman in your practice, when we are trying to jerry-rig a solution we should recognize our frustration as a sign that we need to search out and acquire better tools.  If we are frustrated, struggling and irritated, then we need to step back and reassess.

Reassess here means to ask for help, open a book, or search out the right tool for the job. 

What does jerry-rigging feel like when it is done correctly?

Curiosity, examination and joyous perseverance. 

Monday, September 19, 2016


Tibetan: Sangwa
English: Secret, hidden

Many of the Buddhas' teachings, especially those of the Vajrayana, are described as being secret.  Their are many lineages of esoteric teachings that descend from Tibet, many which are dying out as the tradition meets with a global culture and modern civilization. 

Many might ask, if the teachings are dying out, what is the point in keeping them secret?

We think of secrecy or hidden teachings in which the practitioners are sworn to silence, vowing not to disclose the practice.  That is our ordinary perception and understanding of these teachings, just talk about them and they will stay alive and spread, right?

But the teachings are actually secret because they they are beyond mere words.  They can be shown, witnessed or revealed, but they cannot be explained.

The teachings remain secret unless we commit ourselves to them, unless we become the working basis for the practice to unfold.  The act of working through the practice reveals that which is beyond description.

The life of the teachings then does not depend on simply sharing the teachings, it depends on people committing their lives to their practice.  Once we have received the blessings of the lineage, it is up to us to engage in the practice and develop it to its maturation.  

The practice tradition is the holder of the secret teachings and it is this tradition that we must strive to keep alive. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Objects of gratitude.

Success can take many forms. 

Fancy cars, big bonuses, new additions, first homes, second homes, happy hours and weekend getaways.  Buy what you want.  Build a pile of what you think you need. 

Walk through your area and you are likely surrounded by people living out their success story.  Money and status grant us certain comforts and security, but underneath that success, how many people are really satisfied and content?

A lot of the contentment and satisfaction in our lives comes from being objects of gratitude.  We have been relied upon, trusted, made an impact and been present in someones life and they feel grateful for that presence.

We don't own that gratitude, yet we benefit greatly and derive deep satisfaction and joy from it. 

Instead of chasing success, maybe we should pursue more opportunities to impact the lives of others.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throw back the fish.

The fruit of bodhicitta is the practice itself.

You must be willing to practice with no hope for signs or success.  Nothing to gain, nothing to elevate your status or ego.  No sense of accomplishing or finishing, nothing to hang onto whatsoever.

You must be willing to practice your whole day with no sense of achievement.

Then, if you do catch a fish, you must throw it back.

Dedicate whatever comes your way.  Share the fruit of your practice with others.

Blessings are not used up when shared. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Lifetime after lifetime.

A new job, a new relationship, moving, going back to school.  Change something. 

Discovering our own natural freedom and benefiting others is always just around the next corner.  Fulfillment and peace of mind is always just a couple of changes away. 

Yet we turn a corner and soon are looking for the next one.

We search, longing for a new opportunity, a fresh start, a new birth.

Lifetime after lifetime, we cycle.  Even in this lifetime. 

When do we no longer look to change our circumstances? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

First, tumult.

Its easy to sit along a beautiful lake and enjoy the silence.  So still, so calm.  Every fish, every call of a bird, every movement is a chorus of life.  Perfect, just as it is. 

Easy still is it to sit alongside a gently flowing river.  Continuous, flowing, inspiring, yet peaceful.  The flow of life passing by.

Further upstream we encounter rougher waters.  Cascading falls, rushing gorges, roaring waters.  Its rough through here, even dangerous.  You definitely need to watch your step.

Further still you move up into the mountains.  A melting snow pack.  Drip, by drip, by drip.

We want our practice to be like a beautiful lake.  We want to sit with complete presence and stillness, to experience that profound peace and enjoyment.

Our experience is different however. 

When we sit to meditate we experience the rushing current of the mind, the cascade of thoughts and the tumultuous waters of negative emotions.  Then we think, "I can't make it through here, it's to scary" and give up. 

To get to the beautiful lake, you need to pass through the rougher waters.  You need mindfulness and vigilance to make it through, but eventually you make it down to the gently flowing river of meditation.  Continue further and you end up in the deep, crystal clear waters of vast lakes and oceans. 

All of this starts drip by drip.  Again and again we start down the path, each moment a new opportunity.  The tumult means we are on our way.