For the last two months on Thursday evenings I’ve been offering teachings on meditation. These teachings have been loosely based on Pema Chodron’s brief, easy to read and highly understandable book called How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind. I especially like Pema Chodron’s making friends with your mind approach to meditation. It’s so down-to-earth and real.
The Buddha wisely recommended a relaxed, calm body and a non-harming frame of mind for meditation. The Buddha said he found this path of gentle practice through reflecting on a delightful memory of safety and ease from his childhood.
I have an ever deepening sense of contentment, gratitude and love for my life. This is priceless wealth beyond measure. One I did not alway know. Even years into my Zen practice, deep down in my heart I felt unlovable and undeserving. I was subtly yet constantly living as though I’d never have or be enough. I’d never have enough love or understanding, never enough money, or time, or friends, or esteem… Never enough.
“The Buddha” is in you
Despite all the ways I think I’m different from others, I also try to see how we’re the same. Here’s one way I think we’re the same. Each of us is a mystery. Whatever this life is, at rock bottom, we don’t know what it is, or who, or what we are. While I’m at it, there’s another way we’re all the same. No matter what, whether I meet an inmate at the corrections facility, a homeless person in Gloucester, or a member at Sweeping Heart Zen, that person, just like me, longs to feel whole, content, and happy. So, in my view, we’re each a mystery that longs for peace and joy, and the welfare of those we love. To me, this is what Zen and some other schools of Buddhism mean when we talk about our shared Buddha Nature. And it’s what I mean when I say that “The Buddha” is in you.
Techniques to De-Escalate Anger, Verbal Violence, and Conflict
For the past two days I attended an Alternatives to Violence Project workshop in Cambridge. Four facilitators and twenty-one participants gathered for the AVP workshop at the Friends Meeting House. I think we all grew in the practices of speaking peace and non-violence. At least I know that is true for me.
Dear Wisdom’s Heart,
Long ago, a zen student discover his teacher sobbing inconsolably. “But Master,” the student asked in dismay, “why are you crying?” The Master said, “I’ve just learned my mother has died.” “But Master,” the student pleaded, trying to console him, “don’t you say to view life as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightening in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream?” “Yes,” the Master said tearfully, “and now… the dream is extremely sad.”
Seeds of peace grow peace, which plants seeds of peace.—Ben Connelly
Getting Real About Spirituality
“Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves but… we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our real shit, our most undesirable parts… That is the foundation of… conquering fear. We have to face our fear; we have to look at it, study it, work with it, and practice meditation with it.”
― Chögyam Trungpa,
Once, long, long ago, a large group of monks settled down for the three-month rainy- season retreat in a beautiful forest in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Hospitalized kids often feel scared, lonely, and different; they also often miss out on simple joys of childhood, such as attending school regularly. Receiving a card brightens their day, makes them feel special and reminds them they aren’t forgotten.
Everyday, so much in life directly expresses our fundamental goodness and the goodness of all creation. This is true, just the way we live now, without changing a thing.