Spontaneus Creativity in a Small Package

The little girl with braided hair was last to enter the room after the bell rang. She joined the others who circled the teacher’s position,  watching attentively over her shoulders as she wet the brush and prepared the ink stone. Continue reading “Spontaneus Creativity in a Small Package”

Seize the Moment Surrender the Outcome

New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being easy to break but don’t ever let breaking a promise to yourself stop you from beginning again. Each and every moment offers an opportunity to start something new.
Continue reading “Seize the Moment Surrender the Outcome”

A Flash of Lightning

dark skySix months of remaining in a toxic group environment while saying nothing must mean something, right?

Once again, I did not make a healthy choice right away. I hung in there for half a year before deciding to leave and for what?

There must be a life lesson in that but what is it?

Continue reading “A Flash of Lightning”

Like Frost in the Sun

frostleavesLast April I joined an online group that split into two factions within a week of being formed. Some said the problem was personality clashes. Others said it was religious intolerance. I believe the problem is two egos clashing. I made the decision to leave the group, rather than entering the fray. Continue reading “Like Frost in the Sun”

Everyday Meditation: Blue Sky Mind

CloudsMeditation is becoming aware of the vital stillness and hearing within that stillness. It is the stillness that’s naturally present before you become attached to thoughts and things; before you identify with thought-feeling-reaction.

In this meditation you will be using the visualization of a blue sky with clouds passing through it as the “virtuous” object of your meditation.  Continue reading “Everyday Meditation: Blue Sky Mind”

Revisiting Atisha’s Wisdom

Genius unrefined resembles a flash of lightning, but wisdom is like the sun. ~ Franz Grillparzer

While I’m still packing and sending off books to the free store there are two more I have decided to keep. I’d like to share what they are with you.

There are 21 Lamrim Buddhist meditations, which are usually practiced in a three-week cycle as a daily meditation practice.  These meditations, along with instructions and background material are in the New Meditation Handbook. An extensive presentation of Lamrim meditations are in the Joyful Path of Good Fortune.

Continue reading “Revisiting Atisha’s Wisdom”

Half the truth is no truth at all

yoga mudraHere’s a brief gardening analogy I will use to introduce what I’m about to share with my readers.

If we recognize that positively focused people are like fertilizer and rain that helps us blossom and grow in our own lives. And, we also recognize it’s not wise to pull every weed out of our gardens because they provide vital trace elements for growth, then we can likewise choose to summon up enough empathy to become the sun and fertilizer in the lives of negatively focused people. Granted we may limit our time with them, but everyone we meet is our mirror, and if we want love to be reflected back to us then we need to be the light of love in their world. Continue reading “Half the truth is no truth at all”

Looking Forward a Stress Free Future

bright yellow lotus

Last autumn was a good time to renew my strategy for the future because I recognized there is no magic potion that will guarantee a long, healthy life. I made an assessment of where I was at and where I wanted to be. Continue reading “Looking Forward a Stress Free Future”

Clinging to the Rock or Swimming?

zen rocks Unlike those who shy away from speaking of religion and spirituality — life and death —  my brother and I spent many hours discussing those topics.  After he lived in the forest for nearly a year with me, he returned to his home and sent me a postcard.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. — Alan Watts Continue reading “Clinging to the Rock or Swimming?”

Entanglement and its Antidote, Detachment

Mesh of branches
Flickr mesh of branches by cususi

Our ability to enjoy our lives and relationships reflect our habits — habits that reflect our personal history, family and cultural traditions and our entanglements.

Family background plays a key role in shaping future family relationships, as typically, those who are easily entangled come from families that are  chaotic and not skilled at emotional communications, so they tend to repeat the cycle. Continue reading “Entanglement and its Antidote, Detachment”

Finding My Path

spectrum buddhaThough I was raised to be a Christian, my understanding of God/Nature/Universe and how to live my life does not come from the Bible. When I reached the point in my life where I recognized I had no control over anything or anyone but myself, I came to understand that the God of my understanding was in everyone and everything.  Continue reading “Finding My Path”

Flowers, Impermanence and the Grief Cycle

The death of a loved one is a painful event. The loss of a loved one  means the world as we knew it has changed and those changes require that we in turn adjust to a new “normal.” As time passes and more people we know pass away and we are reminded of our own inevitable end.  Yet thanks to impermanence everything is possible.  Life itself is possible. Continue reading “Flowers, Impermanence and the Grief Cycle”

Spring is Cherry Blossom Time

Cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms (Photo credit: bcostin)

The cherry blossom season from March to mid-April is a relatively short and brilliantly beautiful beginning of  spring.  Cherry blossoms are the quintessential expression of Mono no aware. It’s the Japanese aesthetic concept that highlights awareness of the inherent transience and impermanence of all things.  The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan: the eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century CE — Cherry Blossom And, while we Westerners think about death and rebirth in the fall, the Japanese think about death and rebirth in the spring. Continue reading “Spring is Cherry Blossom Time”

15 Minute Forest Meditation

“Fear is just an illusion and if you believe in this illusion, you are creating your reality. What can you believe in that is not fear? Love. Love is your essence. If you move from fear deep into your heart, you will discover that there is a beautiful little light that you have forgotten. The more you look at this light, the more it will expand in you. Then you will not need to look at the fear because you will be too busy looking at the beauty inside of yourself.”  — Tony Samara Continue reading “15 Minute Forest Meditation”

Live in Joy, Peace and Love

compassionate lifeCompassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other. – The Compassionate Life, Ch. 2  How to Develop Compassion p. 21 Continue reading “Live in Joy, Peace and Love”

Anger and its Antidote, Patience

phoenix I’ve been reading on the beach and learning much from what I have read. In How to Solve Our Human Problems Geshe Kelsang Gyatso proposes that there is no situation so bad that it cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating, and peaceful heart.

Reading this book caused me to take a look at my inner landscape. I have dealt with a large number of major issues in my life but not all. I experience anger less often than I have in the past because I tend to look at the big picture and ask myself how important is this? The answer is usually “not very” as emotions change and those things that evoked anger in me were really small when viewed close up. Sadly, there are still occasions when I don’t pause and ask myself that critical question. Continue reading “Anger and its Antidote, Patience”

Constantly becoming me

purple lotusI love the summer months.  It’s been wonderful to relax on the beach and enjoy some summertime easy living with friends. All the water, warmth, wet hair, sand and the splashing and laughing has lifted my spirits.  I’m intending to extend the sunshine attitude I have now into the autumn.

Sea-change or seachange is a poetic or informal term meaning a gradual transformation in which the form is retained but the substance is replaced, as with petrification. … Source

Continue reading “Constantly becoming me”

A New Attitude: Can Do!

sad face happy face Resisting change is innate in the human psyche rooted deeply in our fear and desire to control.  Grumpiness is the negative attitude that arises when  we are faced with the truth and choose to resist reality —  we can’t control anything other than what we are doing in the moment. Continue reading “A New Attitude: Can Do!”

A Bleak February

February treesSkeletal trees silhouetted against a gray sky scratch the windows as the wind shrills.  The grass and ground below are so saturated that the squelching sound is audible when trod upon.  Dripping downspouts and pervasive dampness that chills the flesh and settles in the bones;  a denial of the onset of spring. My depressed state of mind mirrors the bleakness of February. Continue reading “A Bleak February”

Meditation Practice: Monkey Mind

mindfullness Peace is present right here and now in the present moment, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The only question is whether or not we are in touch with it.

I start my days in silence with nothing on my agenda other than just being.   As I exhale I sigh a single audible sigh, and then begin to seek the silence, what is that I hear? It’s the incessant  internal noise  Buddhists refer to as the chatter of the monkey mind. Continue reading “Meditation Practice: Monkey Mind”

Finding the God of your understanding

My friend Juliana is a remarkable woman in recovery from alcoholism. Juliana has been in recovery for many years and helps other women to get the life they truly deserve because there is only one life, ‘it ain’t no practice run’. In her blog she shares her spiritual journey, and in her most  recent article she describes her construct of the God of her understanding.

I was told that I needed to find a power greater than myself, a God of my own understanding. Oh bother, I was stumbling at the first fence. As a cradle catholic, and years of subjugation and church attendance, I had no more idea of God than the man in the moon. … Nowadays, I choose to call my higher power, God; and I have developed a different understanding, one that works for me. – Finding God

Two of many constructs of God

bible and gavelA masculine construct of God calls one to adhere to God the Father’s laws. It includes the concept that God commands all to obey his laws, and at the end of time will ultimately punish unbelievers sending them to a  living hell, but will forgive and reward believers with eternal life in heaven with him.  This construct is embraced by those who say their understanding of God comes from reading the Bible.

skyA feminine construct of God calls one to be aware that for every thought and action there is a reaction, a consequence, an outcome regardless of the law.  Those who embrace this construct of God say their understanding of God is comes from their experience that the universal laws of nature are impersonal. Reactions are outcomes flowing from natural law (karma) ie. the result of their own past actions and present doings and not punishment or reward from God.

My construct of God

woman in contemplationMy understanding of God does not come from scripture. I don’t think we humans can ever have a true understanding of the nature of God until we recognize we are in charge of our selves and nothing more. When I reached the point in my life where I recognized I had no control over anything or anyone but myself, I came to understand that God was in everyone and everything.

Once I freed my mind from grasping and following every transient thought I experienced in meditation, I  awakened, became conscious and experienced bliss.

I started seeing nature  and the world in the way I had seen  nature as a child, stripped clean of the religious brainwashing I received.  God was in the sunlight, the clouds, rainbows,  the ocean, the forests, the meadows,  flowers and snow topped mountains.

When bliss descends, the insecurity of the heart, the frustration of the mind, the depression of the vital and the limitation of the body disappear. A seeker, an aspiring soul, carries with him two divine weapons: God-love and world-embrace. When we love God from the very depths of our hearts, we feel that our inner existence is inundated with bliss. And when we embrace the world as a divine manifestation of God, again our inner being is inundated with bliss. — Scri Chinmoy

God was within me and the experience of homecoming; the experience of  bliss that moved me beyond words. The God of my understanding is pure consciousness and my purpose in life was revealed to me.

To live consciously and courageously in the now moment, to resonate with love and compassion, and to leave this world in peace.

Below is my comment on Juliana’s  article which contains a description of my seeking and finding the God of my own understanding.

I too love the ocean in all weather and in all seasons. I also love the forest just as much. I live on a small forested island so I’m continually witnessing and influenced by the ever-changing face of the ocean and the tides, and the changes within the forest too.

I think the construct of God refers to a person’s cognitive or theological understanding of God and that the God construct develops is two ways. The first way is through what an individual has been taught and told to believe about God. The second is by what the individual experiences and attributes to the God of their own understanding.

When what an individual is taught and told to believe about God and what they experience are not internally consistent they may become spiritual seekers. I became a spiritual seeker and I too found the God of my own understanding.

As I sought I began to draw even more distinctions based on what I was taught and told to believe about God, and what I learned about God through my own experiences. As a trod the spiritual path I came to realize that my mind was not the tool to analyze God. I came to believe more and more deeply with even greater conviction that I need to let go of constructs of God and simply experience all there was just as it was. So I did that. I learned how to just be and how to be okay with just being.

Over time I developed my own construct of God which is quite different from the God I was taught about and told to believe in as a child. Based on my own experience through meditation I found the God of my understanding deep within me. succinctly stated I believe God is LOVE and when I meditate I feel like I am coming home to God.

My construct of God is neither male nor female, neither good nor bad, neither light nor darkness but containing all there is and situate everywhere: the universal stream of consciousness flowing through all is God – LOVE. Hence, God is found in everyone and in everything; God just keeps on being LOVE.

I believe I have only one life in this body at this point in time, but it’s possible that the essence of me may be returned to live in a new body without a recollection of previous lives, until I stop clanging like a cymbal, and actually become one with God – one with the universal stream of consciousness flowing through all – one with LOVE.

That being said I find the most difficult part of my life is to be still within, at peace and one with God when I am in the company of others. However, when I am in nature and sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in, or when I am in the forest seated on a mossy stump I am still within, at peace, and one with my construct of God. In other words, what I struggle with is remaining in that loving and peaceful state once I leave meditation.

Have you found the God of your understanding?

Alan Watts – Death


white flowerAlan Watts had profound insights into the nature of life and existence that have affected millions of people. “My point was, and has continued to be, that the Big Realization. . . is not a future attainment but a present fact, that this now-moment is eternity and that one must see it now or never,” he said.

When the life force — heat and consciousness — ceases to exist, then that is called death. Death can occur:

1) when one’s own kamma is exhausted,

2) when one’s own life span is exhausted, that is, the span allotted for that particular life (one can only live so long and after that one has to die)

3) when both kamma and life span are exhausted together, or

4) when life ends due to accidental, unnatural causes.

These are the ways that death can come. So death in Buddhism is not the end of total existence. Death is just closing one chapter and the next chapter is opened immediately after that. These two always go immediately together-death and rebirth.  Continue reading “Alan Watts – Death”

Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks 1

leaf on waterStillness Speaks is a gentle journey, one that could take you to a spectacular and very special place of new awareness and deeper understanding. Yet one that leads nowhere in particular.

Tolle is very much aware that it is in the nowhere that the everywhere exists, that it is in the nothing that everything is found. This is not an easy concept for most people to grasp.

The trick with Tolle’s work is to not think about it. Most people, the author says, are lost in thought. The idea is to be out of your mind and into your experience of exactly what is happening, right here, right now.

We think of death as being the opposite of birth. Life, in it’s essence has no opposite. The opposite of life is non-life, just living without consciousness is opposite to living life consciously.  — Neale Donald Walsch, Author of Conversations with God

Stillness Speaks

When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.

When each thought absorbs your attention completely, it means you identify with the voice in your head. Thought then becomes invested with a sense of self. This is the ego, a mind-made “me.” That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and precarious. That’s why fearing and wanting are its predominant emotions and motivating forces.

When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice — the thinker — but the one who is aware of it.

Knowing yourself as the awareness behind the voice is freedom. True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment.

This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.

Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no.

If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion. You would not be reading this now. Suffering cracks open the shell of ego, and then comes a point when it has served its purpose.

Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.

If you haven’t read this collection of thoughts on stillness I highly recommend it to you.

Meditation Practice: Mountain Meditation for Beginners


This is another article in a series for those who are beginning to meditate. It’s important to know what meditation is and what it isn’t, so please read the other articles first Buddhist Meditation: Mindful Breathing Practice and Meditation Practice: Preparation for Beginners. Continue reading “Meditation Practice: Mountain Meditation for Beginners”

Awakening: We are Buddha Seed

lotusseedThere are times when I feel a need to withdraw, to seek within myself balance and harmony. I was in such a state in November.  I was considering withdrawal as winter became reality, and the holiday season was just around the corner.

As I read this post Accepting Yourself I began to ask myself the questions posed in the article, to reflect on my own childhood, and on what we teach our children today.  I left a comment there that would later lead to my holiday season retreat. Continue reading “Awakening: We are Buddha Seed”

Meditation Practice: Preparation for Beginners

flowerbehindearNo one wants to feel: anxious, sad, angry or fearful. Yet, that is exactly what we have all experienced. So why not learn how to do something about it? Why not learn how to meditate?

Meditation involves focusing the mind in order to increase awareness of the present moment. It  promotes relaxation, reduces stress , and enhances personal growth. Continue reading “Meditation Practice: Preparation for Beginners”

Silence is Medicine for the Soul

alg2532In this mad world filled with video, TV, cell phone mania, and music of all kinds at all times and in all places, how much do you desire and value silence?

Do you yearn for silence or view it as an uncomfortable experience?

Do you make time for silence or do you avoid it?

I choose to start my days in silence with nothing on my agenda other than just being and meditating. I rise early and sit bundled up on deck chair with my cup of cocoa between my hands. As I inhale the aroma my mouth watering in anticipation of the moment the first creamy swallow will glide over my tongue, I sigh a single audible sigh, and then begin to seek the silence.

Sitting alone in a quiet place can be a difficult experience. Without distractions, we can feel bombarded by unpleasant thoughts and emotions. All the ways we’re unhappy about ourselves and our lives come raging back into our awareness when there’s space for them to come up.– How Getting Used To Silence Can Help Your Productivity by Christopher R. Edgar on Productivity

Observing silence outwardly but allowing my mind to be noisy wouldn’t do so when I finish I rise from my chair, sit my cup on the table and position myself cross-legged on the cushion I place there for this purpose. Then I begin by simply following my breath in and out. Not striving to change it in anyway simply observing it. With eyes half closed I witness my monkey mind cavorting from topic to topic and yammering, yammering, yammering about the things I must accomplish today. I pay this no mind but neither do I push it away. I continue to follow my breath – Buddhist Meditation: Mindful Breathing Practice. In time my monkey mind will quietly come to rest as I make the shift into consciousness — into the meditative state.

Some time later I make the shift back into everyday awareness filled  with the knowledge that all of us, all over the world, are living breathing cells in the body of humanity nurtured by the silence, a spacious place for growth.

Throughout the ages sages have emphasized the value of silence saying that talking expends energy and time, while silence insures we use our resources judiciously. An early defender of Quakerism, Robert Barclay, emphasized on how much more powerful silence is than any argument used to dissuade a person from the error of his ways. Indeed, self improvement coaches, counselors and writers exhort us to befriend silence for they have personal knowledge of its power.

For decades I have sought silence several times every day and cannot imagine what it would be like never to experience this peace and quiet and the benefits it brings me. Silence refreshes me and heals me of the exhaustion and angst caused by the noise of every day life. Silence provides the spaciousness in which my many scattered parts can come together and mend. Silence provides the canvas upon which my next painting will appear first on the back of my eyelids and then in reality.

What relationship do you have with silence?

Growing Happiness

You Can Be Happy Even When…

  • People have disappointed, betrayed or even defamed you
  • Somebody else is having a bad day and gets upset when you don’t join in their misery
  • Nobody seems genuinely supportive of your goals and dreams
  • You are falling short of your high expectations or you didn’t complete your to-do list
  • Nothing runs smoothly, on time or according to your plans

A video I found to be very empowering is a TED conference video and I’m going to share it with you.

Matthieu Ricard, French translator and right-hand man for the Dalai Lama, has been the subject of intensive clinical tests at the University of Wisconsin, as a result of which he is frequently described as the happiest man in the world. — Robert Chalmers, The Independent

After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.

His deep and scientifically tinged reflections on happiness and Buddhism have turned into several books, including The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet. At the same time, he also makes sensitive and jaw-droppingly gorgeous photographs of his beloved Tibet and the spiritual hermitage where he lives and works on humanitarian projects.

His latest book on happiness is Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill; his latest book of photographs is Tibet: An Inner Journey.

Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness

Happiness is something that everyone is searching for. When we’re happy, life just feels great. Everything feels…right. Now, as happiness is a goal for many of us, there is a lot of advice out there. I’ve even wrote a post myself about attaining instant happiness, but today I wanted to share some proven examples. –
5 Research-Proven Ways to Increase Happiness

Wisdom of the Buddha

The Buddha, Siddhāttha Gotama civilized half the world with his teaching. These are a collection of his wise quotes. It doesn’t matter which faith you follow or if don’t particularly consider yourself a religious person, you will find truth in his words. The video is after the jump.
Continue reading “Wisdom of the Buddha”

Prayer or Meditation: The Differences

Prayer involves cogitation (thinking). To pray is to entreat or implore and is often used as a means of introducing a question, a request, or plea addressed to a deity either, on the behalf of the person praying, or on behalf of of another person, institution or city, country, nation, etc. I do not pray as I do not believe that deities of any kind actually exist; I meditate.

Meditation does not involve cogitation at all. Meditation is the opposite — it’s non-thinking — it’s just being. Meditation does not seek for information or make inquiries. It does not ask that a wish or desire be granted; it does not seek intervention on the mediator’s behalf, or the behalf of another person, institution or city, country, nation, etc.

The meditative state is achieved by stilling of the mind and body, becoming aware of vital stillness, and hearing within that stillness. It is the stillness of being naturally present before you become attached to thoughts and things; before you identify with thought-feeling-reaction.

Here are some ways you can practice meditation every day on your own, whenever you choose. Take a few minutes or as much time as you like.

Blue sky mind

During meditation one turns the light of  their consciousness inward instead of always running out after things. Practice means that everything you do, you act from Blue Sky Mind. You don’t run off with your delusions when they arise.  You visualize a blue sky and view all  thoughts, concerns, attachments  and associated emotions as clouds floating through your blue sky and gradually  your brain stops generating them.

When “clouds” enter again you remain still and detached returning to Blue Sky Mind, and as you spend more and more time there, eventually that becomes your place of residence. At this point it feels like a true turn-around has occurred, one with entirely different quality of being — just being.

This turn-around occurs when all the things associated with “self” (i.e. the ego) like desire, greed, anger, hate, etc. dissolve. Then the mediator experiences  that there is no “self”;  there is no distinct being that is separate from the universal stream of pure consciousness.

Why meditate?

Often we feel the need to find some tranquility in the otherwise frenzied experience we define as life. We need to step away — find some peace so we can let go of our daily worries — cleanse them from our beings.

We use  meditation to reach a state of peaceful and mindful thought. Like stepping into a forest,  meditation will teach you that calmness can surround you and fill your senses. This serenity allows us to leave everything else behind and ease our minds and bodies so that we can take life on again with a fresh and more peaceful approach.  — Patsy Grey

Benefits of Meditation

  • reduces blood pressure
  • relaxes the nervous system
  • improves the immune system
  • lowers oxygen consumption
  • decreases the respiratory rate
  • improves the blood circulation
  • alleviates headaches and migraines
  • reduces the pre-menstrual and menopausal symptoms
  • resting in  a conscious state of natural being assists generation of peaceful and positive thoughts throughout the day

My meditation practice

I sit to meditate everyday, usually more than once a day,  and I also do a walking mediation once each day. In between these times I endeavor to be remain in a state of meditative mindfulness.

Related posts found in this blog:
Meditation Practices

Questions for Readers:

  1. Do you pray?
  2. Do you meditate?
  3. Do you do both?

Meditation: The Quiet Mind

tinybuddha.JPG Ah, the great emptiness! Quieting the mind, extricating it from its affair with its fickle mistresses, the senses, is another way to experience original context, spiritual reality. The great empty field of existence. The beauty of holding it in our minds is that it fills us with the context, the experience of total non-duality, oneness. Unfortunately, words cannot describe direct spiritual experience, so I won’t dishonor it any further. Know that humility, meaning, dynamism, amongst all other truths and wisdom are revealed to the quiet mind. — Brandon Peele

Embrace Reality

When you deny the reality of life, you appreciate it less.
Meditate on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances and rediscover the magic of life just as it is.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

The Plum Village Chanting, by Thich Nhat Hanh