Unsatisfactoriness

Everyday suffering has become a challenge of our time. Unlearning harmful emotional habits, has the like-effect of placing an un-fired clay-pot in the heat of the kiln.  Fire strengthens the pot for whatever challenge it will encounter.

Being unsatisfied, or in the spiritual fire, is the ultimate teacher for pointing to the most essential parts of our nature.  Here is what a master meditation teacher says about the practice skill and movement from suffering back into the loving awareness we are.

“When we meditate or reflect on compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimiy, we can get back in touch with the depths of wisdom and love within each of us.  We can choose to pursue these not only for our own sake, but also for the benefit of those in more desperate circumstances than our own.

 ...Compassion feels like the trembling of the heart in response to seeing pain. Sympathetic joy, joy in the happiness of others, and equanimity, the balance born of wisdom ---can also benefit us in our aspiration to create a better world.”

Sharon Salzberg

May all beings learn to care and connect with pain.

May all beings experience compassionate action.

May all beings be filled with compassion.

Beyond two into the One ~

Beyond two into the One ~

Skillfulness with the natural arising of suffering in one's mind or situations, leads to ease and well being.

Like the meadow out beyond right and wrong –  where two become one, unity beckons. (Rumi)  Freedom from suffering is revealed.

As I keep my practice of compassion on the path, I am inspired by offerings thatrepeat as mantra.  This line from Kuan Yin Bodhisattva sutta, continually inspires my effort towards humble understanding, lighting the way through moments of darkness helping to illuminate my heart and mind and immune system!

 From Kuan Yin ~ The response and the way are intertwined inconceivably.

 We all find ourselves caught in what hinders well being.  Caught in grasping and longing for pleasure; caught in anger, resentment or ill-will, even crippling self-doubt or restlessness that leads to indifference, depression or un-caring. Whether minor in appearance, or deeply rooted psychological troubles, we can over-ly identify with these obscurations, causing more harm to ourselves and having negative effects on others.

 While the effects of meditation calms, when trouble arises, Insight Meditation and Loving-kindness practice are what helps transform experience into a wise heart.

 Monday night meditation at Bend Community Healing is an invitation to learn that we can un-learn what no longer serves us and others. We can learn skillfulness with what has been unskillful, and absorb all that suffers, back into ease of conscious Awareness, bringing ease and peaceful presence to our world.

May all beings be filled with luminous clarity and ease of well being.

Appointment with Nobody (any volunteers?

For our appointment with Nobody
let us meet
at the Clock with no Hands
on the 9th day of the Week
while it is still SummerWinter
and the noonday stars
are spinning peacefully,
and all is well
in all 5,000 Worlds.

And let us call
the meeting notes
of this appointment--
Prayer,

or by its other name--
Meditation,

or by another name--
called Trance,

or by yet another term--
Grateful Rest,

or that dance medicine
whirled in the hoop
of singing soft or strong,
or dancing soft or strong,
or chanting soft or strong,
or making, showing,
teaching, telling,
painting, forming,
soft or strong...
whatever makes Time
--and us-- disappear...

summoning us back
from the edge
of irritated
everyday consciousness--
and instead--
back into Original Consciousness

--that is, complete Return
to Original Hope
that fits like a motherskin
with a fit we can barely feel
so perfect is the size
of True Self when held
against the Nobody.

This comes with love,
dr.e

"Appointment with Nobody" poem excerpt from The Contemplari manuscript ©2000, by CP Estés, all rights reserved.

Thank you Clarrissa Pinkola Estes for the gift of your wisdom essence.

The Wisdom of Insecurity

“Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature nor do children as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.   - Helen Keller

One day Ajahn Chah held up a beautiful Chinese tea cup, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.”    When we understand the truth of uncertainty and relax, we become free.

The broken cup helps us see beyond our illusion of control. When we commit ourselves to raising a child, building a business, creating a work of art, or righting an injustice, some measure of failure as well as success will be ours. This is a fierce teaching.

Excerpt from Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield

Spiritual Friends,

I'm so grateful for the reminder that I can bring kindness to everyday triggers of insecurity if I remember that uncertainty is a given ~  trusting this, my heart relaxes into loosening my grasp, and I suffer less.  I wish this for all of us. That our pain is met with care and connection.  Filled with compassion.

If you would like to read the blog post quoted, here is the link:  

http://www.jackkornfield.com/the-wisdom-of-insecurity

Presence in life

Summer expanses of light promote our longing for leisure and ease of being.  And sometimes the contrast of moving from ease to overwhelm can trigger inside very quickly. How might meditation support us with these everyday changes and conditions that unfold, becoming ours to experience, grow and learn from? 

Senior meditation teacher Trudy Goodman, from Insight LA recently shared the story of swimming (her weekly practice) in the Pacific Ocean with a friend on Trudy's 70th birthday.  Seas were calm early in the morning as they swam out, when suddenly they noticed an unusually large swell rising and making it's way toward them.  Quickly they headed in the direction of the shoreline. She thought, a big ship must have created this.

Swimming hard and fast to make it back before the larger swell crested, Trudy's friend safely missed the current, but Trudy did not. She was overwhelmed by the undertow and  taken down into the tumult.  She didn't panic, as she might have. Instead noticed an calm inner space in which the thought under the weight of the swell, “I may die on my birthday,”as a fact enhanced with ease and inner repose.  Eventually the current released her body into the crashing surf and shoreline, scratched and bruised but alive.

Did she swim on her normal days afterward? No, she shared. Presence revealed my vulnerability to these unknown forces, carrying a compassionate consciousness to my newly experienced physical limits.  She shared that she really didn't know if she could trust her body in the ocean again. And that compassion for herself is the courage and strength she needs to trust now.  Here and Now.

Trusting experience to deeper listening, opens both our limits, as well as the unlimited dimensions of our true nature. Are you entering the deeper conversation with your experience?  How and what is Presence revealing to you in your practice of paying attention with your heart open?

“...Leisure is not the privilege of a few who can afford to take time, but the virtue of all who are willing to give time to what takes time-to give as much time as a task rightly takes.” Brother David Stendlrast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer

A Foundation of Virtue

To continue this journey requires reinforcing the necessary foundation of virtue.  By establishing a practice of basic morality, of non harming, virtue becomes a safeguard on the path, guiding and protecting us and all we touch from harm.  In the simplest fashion these safeguards are spelled out in the five traditional Buddhist precepts: (1) not killing, (2) not stealing, (3) not speaking falsely or with words that are undermining or untrue, (4) refraining from sexual misconduct and sexual activity that causes suffering or harm to another person, and (5) refraining from intoxicants that lead to the point of heedlessness or loss of awareness.

These basic precepts offer us a powerful means of establishing our life in harmony with the world around us.  Without them our minds will be filled with conflict, guilt, remorse, and complexity...Following the precepts is a way of stabilizing the heart.  By committing to non-harming ourselves and not harming others, we develop a reverent relation to life.

From Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are by Jack Kornfield

May all beings be safe from inner and outer harm.

Mindfulness As Fearless Presence

In the Buddha's search for freedom he, too, turned his mindfulness to overcoming his fears.  In the text called Overcoming Fear and Dread, he recounts his practice.

“How would it be if in the dark of the month, with no moon, I were to enter the most strange and frightening of places, near tombs and in the thick of the forest, that I might come to understand fear and terror.  And in so doing, a wild animal would approach or the wind rustle the leaves and I would think, “Perhaps the fear and terror now comes.” And being resolved to dispel the hold of that fear and terror, I remained in whatever posture it arose, sitting or standing, walking or lying down.  I did not change until I had faced that fear and terror in that very posture, until I was free of its hold upon me...And having this thought, I did so.  By facing the fear and terror I became free.” In post-modern times, mindfulness has helped us develop this kind of attention, this listening with presence and feeling – and produced in many deep relief, deep change.

We discover the benefit of curiosity and openness, what Zen master Suzuki Roshi famously called beginner's mind.  In Suzuki Roshi's words, “We pay attention with respect and interest, not in order to manipulate, but to understand what is true.  And seeing what is true, the heart becomes free.”

 

May we meet the places that scare us with attention, respect and interest.

May we each understand what is deeply true.

May our hearts become free.

 

Coming to Meditation

A while ago I met a young man while on a meditation retreat.  He passionately shared wanting to learn to meditate because he couldn't break-free of all the negativity in his mind.  He shared that he wanted to be more like one of those guys empowered to offer their energy toward calm, reliable resolutions, then just sitting back complaining and blaming or frozen in apathy or heavy with resentments. 

He came to the cushion suffering anger, confusion, guilt and anxiety.  He read that most who teach meditation, especially the Buddha, 2,600 years ago were un-apologetic that they were suffering. So he came to meditation hoping to realize how to alleviate anguish...to learn how to be present in the moment; how to be here now- how to stay with himself and not react, especially when distressed, depressed or manic!  

Right away, he shared that the foundational mindfulness practices he was being taught, helped him find his breath and learn to come back from being lost in thought and stay with sensations that quickly shifted and changed.  And that sitting with others supported him more than he realized. And further, learning to listen with his heart he felt connection where there had been none.

This blew his mind! As he meditated regularly in a group and heard how others were dealing with similar issues, he shared that he felt somehow connected to everyone's struggle.  That underneath all mistaken-ness,  that all people, including himself – even creatures and the earth, had the same inherent or basic goodness. 

He said knowing that goodness, was the most radical and surprising shift in his consciousness. Some of the insecurity that was haunting him, completely vanished,  leaving more space for finding the meaning of his life...and for having joy!

I look forward to practicing with you on Monday night through summer.

May we all awaken to our basic, inherent goodness.
May we find joy here and now with the way things are.

In finding freedom, may we connect with others and build a healthy, peaceful society and world.

Will with Grace

Many of us are conditioned in this country to harness our will and push and drive with determination until what we think we want, happens. After many years I've come to the understanding that I am in control of so much less than I once imagined.  There are many things that I cannot create by determination or will alone. 

I've come to trust in the power of grace.

In the West we are taught to believe that we can craft our lives into exactly what we want them to be.  Yet in many places in our world, the myth of being in control is exposed as exactly that, a myth.

Real happiness, real peace, comes not from being able to control life but from accepting life as it comes.

Real happiness comes not from getting everything I want but from embracing and deeply appreciating everything that I have. 

This is the beauty, and the power, of grace, surrender and gratitude.

May every day be filled with the happy awareness that we are all connected.

Wishing all beings every where, in goodness and kindness:  May all beings experience the power of beauty and of grace, surrender and gratitude.

Retreat Experience

Listening to what is out of time, larger than me, than us, discovering a larger canvas to place the content of my life and the fast world. The beauty of stillness experienced in nature. The personal and collective aspiration of those gathered in the meditation hall. The practice of silence, then entering creative experience, then going back into silence. 

Living off the grid, hours turned timeless as days unfolded. Simple, beautiful, natural. Sky. Earth. Water. Stars. Rainstorms. Birdsong. Green grasslands. Butterflies and more.

This movement inside stillness where things dissolve. There's no you and me.  We're beyond the tricks of the mind, as one friend shared. We are in a place we don't even have to name. Where all mystical frameworks drop us into the most intimate reality.  Where explanations are not necessary. Just experience through wakefulness. Deep listening.

Says Pico Iyer

“Mysticism is what stands out of time and beyond circumstance...is the unchanging back beat and back stage truth that stands behind all the changing surfaces and shifts in the world.”

Kindness, selflessness, clarity, listening and committing to that path of reality as the very center of our lives. There is joy in the quiet.  I think children of today and tomorrow will be drawn to the essential instead of what is the newest thing in the marketplace.

Stillness, silence enhances the dissolving of anxiety and suffering, bringing us into an essential reality natural to us.

May all beings experience the joy of quiet.

May we be filled with compassion and kindness.

May the strength to love, increase peace in each of us.

 

Summer Solstice Greetings.

Sequestered in the high desert region of eastern New Mexico; nestled among green rolling hills, ridge-tops, peaks and canyon pastures in the high desert of Eastern New Mexico, I was instantly absorbed in gracious, spacious rain-soaked earth and blue blue, white cloud filled sky and dharma friends. 

Deeply supported, my ten day meditation and inquiry with creativity explorations, also included restful outdoor experiences under cottonwood stands, creekside. Just what this body, mind, heart needed.  Sleep came regularly, long and uninterrupted under clear, starlit skies.  Unplugged, the restorative process came with ease, settled alongside fellow retreat friends with the same aspirations.

This line from one of our daily practices, clearly transmits the gift of this spaciousness.

“...make use of this spaciousness.  This freedom (spiritual) and natural ease, Don't search any further.  Don't go into the tangled jungle looking for the great awakened elephant who is already resting quietly at home in front of your own hearth...everything happens by itself!  Emaho! Marvelous!”

Everyday practice: Care, Courage with Compassion and Clarity

   Recently, I learned this life-lesson, again, when the owner of the house I have leased for seven years, chose to give me notice, rather than share his long-range plan to keep raising the amount (again).

   Mindful attention noticed my mind gradually became moderately disturbed.  I was anxious for my future, then angry, then sad and discouraged.  I went to my writing practice to sort through my fear-based reactions.

   Looking with ease and care for the message in my feeling states, I came to understand that I needed to consciously admit a gradually growing state of anxiety that this would happen when my lease went up for renewal in May.  This was my part of the energetics!

   I took some care that my perspectives as a long-term lease'e mattered and that my self-respect, self-compassion, and kindness with courage, would somehow make a difference if I chose to invite a dialogue with the house-owner.  I met the I challenge and communicated clearly with compassion for us both. 

   Right away I felt re-aligned and settled with wise understanding regarding all the perspectives around the issues of Bend's rental market - for owners, as well as long-term rentors.  We had respectful and friendly exchanges.

  I admitted my concerns in the empowered humility of self-honesty, and shared my willingness to move forward with more courage to face into the facts, and still feel joy for the sense of happy stability my dwelling provides for me, my family and the community.

WE HAVE A CHOICE from Pema Chodron's book No Time To Loose

When someone harms us, they create the cause of their own suffering. They do this by strengthening habits that imprison them in a cycle of pain and confusion. It’s not that we are responsible for what someone else does, and certainly not that we should feel guilty. But when they harm us, we unintentionally become the means of their undoing. Had they looked on us with loving-kindness, however, we’d be the cause of their gathering virtue.

What I find helpful in this teaching is that what’s true for them is also true for me. The way I regard those who hurt me today will affect how I experience the world in the future. In any encounter, we have a choice: we can strengthen our resentment or our understanding and empathy. We can widen the gap between ourselves and others or lessen it. 

Self-Discovery and Truth

Daylight comes earlier and earlier, and with the light, opportunity for self-discovery.  We see our mind, emotions and actions with greater acuity. 

The light also illuminates our mental-emotional confusions and presents an opportunity to meditate on the cause, effect and resolution.  Meditation and the natural dimensions of our true-nature is the lamp of conscious awakening inside the luminous darkness.

Our embodied experience gradually knows the cohesion of greater understanding bringing disparities and into wholeness.

Monday night insight meditation is an opportunity to sit, move and practice listening and sharing inquiry from the openness of our vulnerability and deep heart. 

It's serious fun and an opportunity to begin again.

Courage to Love ~

Friends, there are two more Monday night classes focusing our listening-knowing-heart on emotional intelligence; how becoming defense-less and resource-full awakens our aliveness!

 Everyone is afraid. When fear is inappropriate and neurotic we are creating suffering. At other times we have good reason to be afraid. Generally, fear reduces our ability to act, convincing us we shouldn't take chances.

Beneath all knowable fears is the greatest fear of all ~ the fear of love.  Mindfulness and compassion open the inspiration to practice with our vulnerability instead of against it.  

Yet any practices require our steadfast effort and personal longing to effectively change habitual patterns.  We often need a trusted guide to navigate the territory

The methods and practices of inquiry, despite our trepidation, give us the courage to face our weaknesses, helping us to discover hidden strengths within. 

Five Weeks on Fear and Fearlessness: A path of heart and wisdom

These precious earth-rains soften the soil underneath every step we take, absorbing into the root systems of living beings, bringing renewal and sustenance. 

Pema Chodron:

"The dharma very clearly says that the only way to explore Fearlessness, is to know the nature of fear.  Without getting rid or casting out or suppressing, we also don't cling to fear. But that we become very intimate.  We come to know it so well.  That the journey of knowing fear well, moving closer to fear, becomes in fact, the Journey of Courage."

As we unfold into another seasonal change, might we refresh our attitudes, our tools and methods for effectively turning towards what scares us and challenges the heart to open into courage.

May all beings learn to care and connect where there's fear and pain.

May all beings awaken love and courage in the face of what scares us.

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

From Jack Kornfield's ~ The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

"Like a caring mother holding and guarding the life of her only child, so with a boundless heart of lovingkindness, hold yourself and all beings as your beloved children."  Buddha

Lovingkindness offers care and well-wishing to another without expectation or demand.  There is no distance between their well-being and our own.  True love is trustworthy.  Our love for others is an expression of our trust in love itself.  No matter what happens, we can still love.

Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action.  It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond  our small self and embrace each other as parts of a whole.

In the end when we look at our life the questions will be simple:

          Did I live fully?

          Did I love well?

May all beings trust in a reality beyond fear.

May all beings trust a timeless truth bigger than all of our difficulties.

May all beings rest in the generosity of the heart.

Loving ~ for all living beings, including earth, and our relatedness

From Brene Brown's Daring Greatly:

"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering...with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow; a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them - we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.  Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare."

I look forward to sitting with you at Bend Community Healing, a center dedicated to nurturing and supporting healing and awakening.

Primary Feelings

Our painful experience does not represent failure. We feel to go beyond the reasoning for our anger.  For example, feeling anger in the body...the heat...then what the expression of anger would say or sound-like.  This produces neurons to parts of the brain that release cortisol (stress hormone) and produce necessary cognition to the immune system, enabling a clearing that opens the way to a bio-cognitive embodied self-love and self-compassion, potentially moving us toward whole-healing.

This from his ground-breaking book: Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield

Buddhist psychology helps us distinguish two critical aspects of feeling.  The first and most essential quality is called the primary feeling.  According to this perspective, every moment of our sense experience has a feeling tone.  Like valence in chemistry, each sight, sound, taste, touch, smell or thought will have either a pleasant, painful or neutral quality.  Modern neuroscience confirms that everything that registers in the brain is assigned some negative or positive valence. The primary feeling tone comes first.  Then, born out of this simple feeling tone, there arises a whole array of secondary feelings, all the emotions we are familiar with, from joy and anger to fear and delight.

"Working with the primary feelings is a direct route to enlightenment," explained one of my Burmese teachers.  The stream of primary feelings is always with us, but we often have the mistaken notion that life is not supposed to be this way.  We secretly believe that if we can act just right, then our stream of feelings will be pleasant and there will be no pain, no loss.

So when a painful experience arises we try to get rid of it, and when a pleasant experience arises we try to grasp it.  When a neutral experience arises we tend to ignore it.  We're always wanting the right (pleasant) feelings and trying to avoid the wrong (painful) ones.  And when they are unpleasant we react endlessly, struggling to get it right.

As we become wiser we realize that fixing the flow of feelings doesn't work.  Primary feelings are simply feelings, and every day consists of thousands of pleasant, painful and neutral moments, for you, Condoleeza Rice, the Dalai Lama, Mick Jagger and the Buddha alike.  These feelings are not wrong or bad.  They are the stream of feelings of life.  Sylvia Boorstein, my colleague, writes, "What a relief it was for me to go to my first meditation retreat and hear people who seemed quite happy speak the truth so clearly - the First Noble Truth that life is difficult and painful, just by its nature, not because we're doing it wrong."

Everyday we can heal into life by repeatedly practicing insightful clearing and opening the gates to empathic joy.  Our other option is ruminating on misery.

Gratitude

We are all subject to freely offered gifts; presents wrapped in what is most natural, yet often dismissed our unseen. Nature is generous and filled with treasures to be appreciated instead of exploited.  Likewise, people are naturally generous with their empathy until that flow is conditioned, contorted and fashioned into someone else's idea of treasure. Perhaps we are here on earth to touch into our deepest values and connect and care about our life's true purpose.

I received this link from Janet S who consistently attends Monday night meditation.   Many of you may have already viewed this video, yet I encourage you to absorb it again, for the inspiration; for the practice; for gratitude's sake, alone. 

Enjoy Louie Schwatzberg's Ted Talk on Gratitude, with visuals and wise commentary.

http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude?language=en

Feeling grateful makes a bridge to becoming intimate with all things. I am grateful to friends who long to live truth, and without whom I would not be aware, awakening and loving truth. I am equally grateful to what doesn't care at all.  For that indifference fuels my inspiration, too!

So thank you Benefactors. Friends. Neutral People. Difficult People and my Friends-the-Enemy, for being equal stewards and teachers for cultivating gratitude.  And to Our Earth Home, blowing my heart open everyday with wonder, nourishment and vitality.  Bows of gratitude.

 

May all beings have gratitude and reverence.

May all beings have humility with awe and wonder.

May all beings be grateful and free of fear.

Basic Goodness

Offering meditation classes inspires a wish to encourage you and all of us that we can take our spiritual practice, our reflections, our personal development and at the same time be socially relevant.  

 In the age where irony and humiliation rule the popular news day, we can dive deeper into the heart to our natural empathy wherever we recognize suffering. In loving awareness we can respond in simple and unique ways that shift us out of fear.

I love this quote from Oscar Wilde who says:  "I have said that behind sorrow there is always sorrow.  It is wiser still to say, that behind sorrow there is always a soul.  And to mock at a soul in pain is a dreadful thing."

butterfly on flower.jpg

Lastly, from Pema Chodron...        

"There is an unconquerable courage within to be tapped...a boundless well of reserve....a strength at the very core of your Being, your intrinsic human goodness."