Archive for the ‘dharma’ Category

Sublime weekend

Monday, November 17th, 2008

My new friend Maya lured me off to ‘A Night of Transformation’, a Toltec wisdom performance event saturday evening.

The ginormous beehive of the Nexus Hotel near the Northgate mall seemed quite an incongruous location for such an earthy, spiritual event, but it mattered not-it gave us enough space for transformation, enough space for the band to play, for the stories to blossom, for our spirits to rise!

So invigorating to see men of wisdom speak! Tell story, sing, share music and art. Don Jose Ruiz sitting there(smiling this huge smile like the sun shining on every single wildflower in a brilliant mountain meadow) and giving us his blessing through stories. I loved watching Eric painting, his firey artwork taking shape under the spell of the music and magic. The singers and musicians fueling our yearning and encouraging our spirits with their poignant, funny and tender songs.

I love Don Jose’s Abraham Lincoln quote: ‘When you do bad, you feel bad, when you do good, you feel good’. What a simple, easily graspable, explanation of karma! And his recounting of the joyous memory of hundreds of metalheads OMing at an Ozzy Ozborne concert, and the vision of humans, us, ordinary human beings, as angels, fully capable for change, of taking back our world.

Right here, right now, every day, we are the angels, we can take our world back. That makes my heart so happy, so happy.

And Maya, oh miss Maya, marvelous, dancin’, skippin’, tiny, soft, strong, dynamite papaya woman. So glad to welcome you to my tribe! Many thanks to Yoni for bringing you to my nest and to you for lifting my heart, hearing my poems, reveling in snuggles and chocolate, giant leaves and foggy worlds, for purple cauliflower, for giggles and rubbing my feet…


More pics here.

I love it when my family grows.

You are what you think

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

The thought manifests as the word;
the word manifests as the deed;
the deed develops into habit;
and the habit into character.

So, watch the thought and it’s ways with care
and let it spring from love
born out of concern for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body,
as we think, so we become.

The Buddha, from the Dhammapada.

What good is meditation?

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

A debate(although Trungpa Rinpoche hardly gets a word in edgewise) between Krishnamurti and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

View it on U Tube. Hang in there through part one, things get infinitely more interesting as they really start enjoying themselves.

Having been raised on Krishnamurti’s teachings, it was really amusing for me to watch him debunk formal meditation and to see Trungpa Rinpoche(one of my favorite teacher/authors) beam at him.

I only wish Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche could have taken part. It would have been enlightening to hear them discuss neuroscience and meditation.

Then again, it might have made our ordinary disorderly human brains asplode.


Snow Lions

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008


The Snow Lion is one of my favorite mythological tibetan buddhist beasts. It’s also one of the Shambhala tradition’s Four Dignities.

The Snow Lion represents unconditional cheerfulness, Earth and East, a mind free of doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a body and mind that are synchronized. The Snow Lion has a youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight.

They are a regal, like a lion, but visually resemble dogs, much like the temple guardian of China, the Fu dog.

Bring on the high tide, baby!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

“One of the most important tasks of adulthood is to discover, or to rediscover, the ability to lose oneself. To do this we must understand the difference between unintegration and disintegration. The Chinese expression for orgasm, ‘having a high tide‘, describes this difference quite effectively. In a high tide everything is floating, the self is submerged or dissolved, there is no longer any foothold or point of reference, but it is not chaos. When we are afraid to relax the mind’s vigilance, however, we tend to equate this floating with drowning and we start to founder. In this fear, we destroy our capacity to discover ourselves in a new way. We doom ourselves to a perpetual hardening of character, which we imagine is sanity but which comes to imprison us. Our shoulders get more and more tense.”

Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Mark Epstein, MD.

Someone should have told the Borg

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Control is futile. Resistance, inevitable.


I’m reading Shunryu Suzuki’s ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’. It’s delightfully, intensely, simply rife with paradox.

I love his talk on control, this is my favorite excerpt:

‘You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in it’s wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: First let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.’

Happiness in all the wrong places

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

The Root of Suffering

What keeps us unhappy and stuck in a limited view of reality is our tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek security and avoid groundlessness, to seek comfort and avoid discomfort. This is how we keep ourselves enclosed in a cocoon. Out there are the planets and all the galaxies and vast space, but we are stuck here in this cocoon. Moment after moment, we’re deciding that we would rather stay in that cocoon than step out into that big space. Life in our cocoon is cozy and secure. We’ve gotten it all together. It’s safe, it’s predictable, it’s convenient and it’s trustworthy. If we feel ill at ease, we just fill in those gaps.
Our mind is always seeking zones of safety. We’re in this zone of safety and that’s what we consider life, getting it all together, security. Death is losing that. We fear losing our illusion of security-that’s what makes us anxious. We fear being confused and not knowing which way to turn. We want to know what’s happening. The mind is always seeking zones of safety, and these zones of safety are always falling apart. Then we scramble to get another zone of safety together again. We spend all our energy and creativity and waste our lives trying to recreate these zones of safety, which are always falling apart. That’s the essence of samsara-the cycle of suffering that comes from continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places.

‘Comfortable with uncertainty’ Pema Chodron

Probably this will discourage you for life

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

So begins Pema Chodron’s teaching on troublemakers.


The way out

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

‘In any situation or state of mind you are in, there is always a point of heat, and we experience that as pain. But actually it’s just heat, and that’s what Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche calls the “Great Eastern Sun”. It’s a place where reality is coming up above the horizon, where it is dawning, and that becomes our point of orientation. So, I’m not saying to look for suffering, but I am saying that you have to look for the heat. There’s a huge area of self-satisfaction and then there is this area where there is a crack in the door of the ego. And there is this bright light coming in and it’s very irritating and it’s not pleasant, but that’s what you have to look for. You are looking for it not because there is anything great about suffering, but because that’s the way out.
I had a friend who was in a plane crash a number of years ago and she said that when the plane crashed it was pitch dark and the whole thing was on fire, and then someone saw a crack of light and said: “The light is over there!” and that is how they saved themselves, because somebody saw this light.
That’s what we have to do. We have to look for the crack in the shell of the ego where there’s a bright light coming through. It is too bright and it’s irritating and it’s painful, but that’s the way out.’

Reginald Ray(an excerpt in Halfway up the Mountain, by Marianna Caplan)

Art in the face of horror

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Burmese painter and performance artist Htein Lin was imprisoned in a Myanmar(Burmese) prison for six years.

Htein Lin

It didn’t stop him, in fact it fueled his art. Painting on sarongs donated by inmates on death row(whose sacrifice meant they had to remain naked until issued a new one), his works depict the awful suffering, sickness and corruption of prison life in Myanmar, where prisoners who couldn’t afford the bribes would often beg the mercy of other prisoners to chop their fingers off with a hoe, so that they could not be sent to brutal work camps.

This heroic, resourceful artist used syringes(from a medical orderly who was a poet) as paintbrushes and the plasticized back of a photo of the Buddha as a print plate. He also created a series of performances for the sustenance of his fellow prisoners.

How incredible, and how fortunate, that he managed to smuggle his art out of prison. Lin has continued to create art and perform.

I love this quote from his website:

‘Htein Lin sees himself as an artist, not a political activist. But while he regards art used in the service of politics as something that insults the value of both, he believes political events can inspire art, and those events can sometimes even swallow up an artist. When the artist emerges, he will be changed by the experience, and thereby become the painting, and no longer the painter.’

It goes so well with his painting, ‘Self Torture for Six Years’:

(click on image to enlarge)

Thank God for the brave artists and monks of the world. Humans have such a capacity for violence, aggression, deception, selfishness and brutality, it’s often hard to remember how tremendously brave, compassionate, generous, just and honest we can be.

My thanks, Htein Lin. It’s humbling to see your art, courage and perseverance.