Red Brain, Blue Brain

Cliff Dwellers

I promise, this blog is not about the fiscal cliff, slope or whatever it was. Not really. But I have to wonder, how it is we are all going to find reason in our relations with each other. By all accounts, the President made offers that should have enticed Republicans long before the deadline. “Why,” some wondered, couldn’t the holdouts in the House of Representatives just “listen to reason.” In a book reviewed by the Times last spring, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt offers an answer. In “The Righteous Mind,” Haidt ... continue reading
Esopus Creek, Steve Mancinelli

What to Do?

Lately, I’ve scrapped a few blog posts. There was one I wrote for the holidays on forgiveness–but it’s just not the right time. In another attempt I tried to follow the threads of grief and loss to some universal wisdom addressing the tragic shootings in Newtown. I couldn’t figure out how to end the post. For what it’s worth, if you are looking for leadership in this sad time, I thought our President’s remarks at the memorial service for the victims were on the dot. “What can we Do?” is the ... continue reading
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Hope for the Holidays

During the holidays, it’s inspiring to remember our lineage forebears. One of my favorite stories features a moment between the meditation masters Chögyam Trungpa and Suzuki Roshi, two of my heroes. When this encounter begins,  Trungpa is drunk and Roshi is angry. They loved each other. Their story isn’t a holiday story, but it could be. It gives me hope. I suppose you could take it another way. As a WASP, angry is binary, it’s a switch. For my people, you’re “fine,” “fine,” “fine,” and then, after a few glasses of fine Bordeaux, ... continue reading
Meditation Circle

Meditation Cushions: Beginner’s Guide

An upright meditation posture allows you to relax and breath freely. The best meditation cushion choices for the beginner in meditation are actually simple. It all comes down to a question of height and flexibility.  What, for you, is the right distance between your bottom and the floor?  The Goal: you are high enough off the meditation mat so your thighs angle downward from your hips. When they do, your back can be straight without straining. A Cloud Bench is like a meditation chair, just lower. The rectangular firm foam block in ... continue reading
WalkToFeedTheHungry

Buddhist Global Relief Announces Annual Walk to Feed the Hungry

Sparta, NJ, August 29, 2012 — Buddhist Global Relief announced today the cities and venues for its 2012 “Walk to Feed the Hungry” fundraising events. This is the third year in which Buddhist Global Relief will be holding a walk to raise funds for its programs that provide relief to communities around the world afflicted by chronic hunger and malnutrition. The Walk to Feed the Hungry began in 2010 in South Orange, New Jersey, and expanded to three cities in 2011. In the first two years, over $120,000 were raised ... continue reading
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Meditation Space: NERCF

It is Friday afternoon.  I am sitting in a visitation room in the Northeastern Regional Correctional Facility, one of two buildings in St. Johnsbury that are the Northeast Correctional Complex.  The other building is a work camp, with much looser security.  This is a medium security facility.  Entry and exit is by a series of doors around a central common area.  Into or out of that area, only one door is opened at a time.  You wait to get in, and you wait to get out.  It is affectionately called ... continue reading
White River JCT train yard

Meditation Space: White River Junction

When I lived at the meditation center, I liked to visit this cute little Vermont town.  Having lived in cities all my life, I would strain to imagine what it was like to live, day in and day out, in White River Junction.   After dropping someone off at the train station here, I would kick around in the railroad yard in a wistful, longing way.  It hardly seemed possible to actually live in such a place, unless one were either financially independent or willing to live very simply… but ten ... continue reading
Pencil Sharpener Circa 1980

Dear High School Senior

Dear Graduate, What is your dream job? To teach meditation? I understand. That’s what I do. It’s a dream job. But I didn’t start there. I started in Accounting. If Accounting can lead to meditation, it can lead to anything. Congratulations on your diploma. Now you will need a job. My advice for college: study Accounting. Seriously! OK, I understand. You are young. You want to live your dream. But if you want to dream, you need to sleep. To sleep, you can’t be hungry. To eat, you need a job. It’s ... continue reading
"The Teacher Listens"

How to Ask Your Teacher a Question

You are attending a meditation class online or a weekend program in your city. Or perhaps you have taken off from work to sit on your zafu cushion for a week retreat at a residential meditation center. The teachings have focused on meditation in everyday life, and now you have a question. For a moment you hesitate. The last time you asked a teacher a question was in your college algebra class. Somehow this feels different.  For one, you feel a real solidarity with others in your class who are exploring the path ... continue reading
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To Sleep with a Stranger

It was late. Before collapsing into bed, would the grandparents have time to talk, to communicate openly as husband and wife, even for a moment? “There was a great piece in the New Yorker on Camus and Sartre,” I volunteered, hoping to catch my wife’s attention with an article I had read recently. (Jeanine happens to be French.) Sitting on the edge of the bed, she answered incredulously “Do I hear a shower?” She lowered her head to listen. Down the hall, there was the unmistakable sound of running water, our granddaughter ... continue reading