Celebrating Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day

As all of look forward to celebrating Earth Day, I have another question: is the planet earth “a thing”? If our earth got lost and we had to track it down in another galaxy, how would you know you had found it?

Perhaps you would need to visit your old neighborhood to see if your house or apartment was still there. But your neighborhood is something that sits on the earth, right?

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How to Be Kind

How to Be Kind

Even by meeting someone’s eyes, we let go of where we are holding back.”
— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on How to Be Kind

Metta

Metta, from the Pali language of ancient India, is associated with a short Sutra or discourse in which the Buddha extols the virtues of kindness. Typically, the word Metta (Maitri in Sanskrit) translates as “Loving-Kindness” or “Friendliness”.

The Buddha’s description of kindness does not point to a moral obligation or address a fundamental fault—quite the opposite. Rather it is a question of what is natural on the journey to enlightenment. In the Buddhist tradition, it is by practicing kindness that we create the conditions for waking up to our inherent goodness and compassion.

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Learning To Stay (and go)

This past Christmas Holiday, I was able to share a moment with my granddaughter who was staying over. In the car, during one of many excursions, we enjoyed a song from the 1980’s that I had heard many times but was new to her. It has a great beat and simple lyrics which makes it easy to sing along. The song stayed in my head long after the Holidays had passed.

As Valentine’s Day approached, this song came back to haunt me. On this day devoted to romance and relationship, some of us will be faced with exploring the boundaries of love  with those we care for.  Mixed and missed messages from our partners, friends and family may cause us to doubt the our relationships and compel us to look for answers to our insecurities.

Experience in meditation can help us navigate the tumultuous waters of relating to loved ones, but it also teaches us that the first relationship we have to cultivate is the one with ourselves. Missing this last point seemed to characterize the lyrics from the song, Should I Stay or Should I Go, from the British rockers – The Clash. The song I enjoyed in such a fresh new way with my granddaughter.

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The Year of the Fire Bird

FireBird

Here is the moon of great bliss and skillful means. And here is the sun of wisdom and shunyata.”

Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche from The Sadhana of Mahamudra

 Calendar Makers

For millennia, Asian countries and cultures have celebrated the Lunar New Year. Depending upon the country, this new moon holiday will fall within two months after the Winter Solstice. In the Shambhala community (we follow the Tibetan tradition of Losar or “New Year”) the first day of the new Fire Bird year is Monday, February 27th. Shambhala Centers worldwide will celebrate this day. Everyone is welcome.

Greek civilization used a lunar calendar. Thanks to the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, since 46 B.C.E. we’ve been using a calendar aligned with the earth’s orbit around the sun. This calendar was refined in the Middle Ages by Pope Gregory, which is why our current calendar is called Gregorian.

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Starting Meditation: A Simple Way to Begin

Starting Meditation

What should we do when starting meditation? Different traditions answer that question differently. In Buddhist mindfulness, you start meditation by focusing your attention on the sensation of breathing. The Buddha himself gave instruction on this breath meditation in the Anapanasatti Sutra.

According to this Sutra, or discourse by the Buddha, there are steps along the path of mindfulness. The way to start, however, is to be aware of the breath−or more precisely−the sensation of the body breathing.  Meditation Practice could start in many ways, but we are already in the habit of relating to our body (and happily, we are breathing). So the breath is a natural and familiar focus for gathering the mind.

In the sutra, even before the Buddha gives instructions on how to meditate, he gives advice on preparing to practice. In other words, even when we’re doing meditation at home, there are steps as we begin.

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