Archive for the ‘Impermanence’ Category

Meditation Circle

Meditation: Waiting to Connect

It was 1975. My Buddhist meditation teacher was coming to NYC. I wanted to see him. I also wanted my Aunt and Uncle, who lived near my boarding school in rural PA, to be able to appreciate him as well. Besides, I didn’t really know the city and could use some help getting there. A high school senior, I had been practicing on my meditation cushion for several years. Aunt and Uncle were skeptical. This was before the Dalia Lama, before karma was in Merriam Webster’s. If Buddhism wasn’t a cult, it was certainly foreign. ... continue reading
The Path of Meditation

The True Refuge

According to my meditation teacher, to practice meditation is to be vulnerable, requiring the discipline of simplifying and slowing down. This journey takes intelligence and a willingness to acknowledge our connection to others. Sitting on our meditation cushion, we are exposed. Our willingness to be exposed is an expression of strength. Of course security is important and meditation requires relaxation. But if we are left alone for a minute, and we give our discursiveness a rest, inevitably we begin to feel. To feel what we are feeling is to be human. ... continue reading
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Remembering My Self

April 1st Barnet, Vermont We remember here Acharya Michael Greenleaf, a senior teacher in Shambhala and a co-founder of the wildly successful Mukpo Institute. The Acharya’s road to revered ‘would-be Master’ was not easy or anticipated. As a boy, he mercilessly harassed his one sibling, a younger brother. Both smarter and more sensitive than Michael, Tony suffered this abuse with dignity. Later, Michael would take credit for “introducing my brother to the Buddhist path of patience and loving kindness.” By the age of 13, a growing intuition told Michael that his destiny lay in ... continue reading
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Me Who Loathes Me: The Interview

On cold and rainy afternoon in West Barnet recently, I caught up with the Me Who Loathes Me. We shared a cup of tea and watched the clouds moving across the sky. Me: So, when was it we last got together? MLM: Yeah, not so long ago—at the funeral service for Paul, a fellow practitioner of mindfulness. Me: Yes, Paul, what a wonderful man! MLM: Yeah, if anyone ever put your schtick in stark contrast, it was Paul. He understood goodness, something that still eludes you. What do you actually do on your meditation cushion ... continue reading
Take the Test!

The Contentment Test

This year, the Christian tradition of Lent falls during the weeks before and after the first day of spring. Lent is a time associated with purification and renunciation. While Buddhism is no stranger to these practices, one of the words for renunciation in Tibetan can also be translated as “contentment”. (The word is chok-she, which literally means “to know enough, to know what is enough”.) Rather than self-sacrifice or a lowering of expectation, contentment refers to waking up from the confusion of continuous want; appreciating the richness of experience in each ... continue reading
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Giving and Knowing

Generosity is our genes. The word comes from the root genus, meaning of good or noble birth. Noble, in turn, comes from the root gnosis—to know. Generosity speaks to the natural expression of an inherent goodness in human beings that both knows, and by its expression, is known. This past summer, my wife and I hosted Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and his family at our home in Vermont. The Sakyong (a Tibetan title meaning ‘Earth Protector’) is leading back-to-back retreats at Karmê Chöling, the meditation center in Barnet. For the month-long visit, Jeanine and ... continue reading
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Holding and Letting Go

More often than not, it seems, death epitomizes life. This was the case with the passing of my grandmother. Our matriarch, she had held the family together with a balance of judgment and acceptance; eventually she supported my interest in meditation, but not at first. Still in my teens, I had been living at a meditation center for about a year when I paid a visit to my grandparents in Philadelphia. “Have you ever wondered if they’re putting something in the food?” Grammy asked. No doubt, she and granddaddy had discussed ... continue reading
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The Greatest Teacher

It’s been a month of hard lessons. We all long to tell the truth, to share what we know. But how? Sometimes really telling the truth requires a turn of phrase, similes, metaphors—a story. My story begins like this: its been a month of hard lessons. The hard part? A clot of blood in the lungs was hard, and painful and scary. Painful and scary is a blood clot story with a happy ending. How is my wife doing? She is doing quite well, thank you. She feels pretty much “back to normal.” Yesterday ... continue reading
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Volunteers

This spring, will a flower emerge in the same unlikely spot? Blooming alone in a bed of stones next to the front door, last year the colorful Pansy surprised us. Pansies are biennials. In their first season, they grow green; in their second they flower, seed and perish. “Volunteers,” David calls them, referring to the flower’s ability to extend itself to another bloom. David is helping Jeanine and me with some spring-cleaning around the yard. He moves slowly, but with the confidence of someone who knows what the earth is up ... continue reading
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When Suitcases Fly

As if by magic, the suitcase was flying through the air. Well, in my defense, it wasn’t a suitcase really, more of a carry-on bag. But it was definitely airborne. It flew through the open door, crossing the threshold of our house well off the ground and landing with a thud that startled our granddaughter who had just entered the mudroom. Later, I would defend myself, saying that at least I didn’t throw the thing at anyone. It landed safely. No one was hurt. Suffice to say, none of these explanations ... continue reading