Monday, December 28, 2015

By suffering's presence

"It is by suffering’s presence that we know there is something we need to address.”

~ Jane Hirschfield
Ten Windows

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Matter Where You Stay by Chatral Rinpoche

Thomas Merton and Chatral Rinpoche in Darjeeling, 1968

"No matter where you stay -- be it a busy place or a solitary retreat --
The only things that you need to conquer are mind’s five poisons*
And your own true enemies, the eight wordly concerns**, nothing else,
Whether it is by avoiding, transforming,
taking them as the path or looking into their very essence,
Whichever method is best suited to your own capacity."

~ Chatral Rinpoche

* Ignorance, greed, hatred, jealousy, and pride.
** Loss and gain, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, disrepute and fame.

How to Be a Poet by Wendell Berry

[This is also excellent advice for how to pray ~ George]

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

True and False Suffering

"...When our old images break we suffer terribly, but then, when all goes well, new light and heat bring companionship and a humble knowledge of the real...
[T]here is true and false suffering. The breaking of the images abolishes our false pain and makes way for the true to appear. False suffering is a defense against the vigor and tumult of experience. Our true suffering is the shared lot of humanity..."

~ John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark, p.45

Sunday, November 15, 2015

EcoSattva Vows

One Earth Sangha

EcoSattva Vows

Based on my love of the world and understanding of deep interdependence of all things, I vow:

To live in Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products and energy I consume.

To commit myself daily to the healing of the world and the welfare of all beings; to discern and replace human systems of oppression and harm.

To invite personal discomfort as an opportunity to share in the challenge of our collective liberation.

To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, from our ancestors and the future generations, and from our brothers and sisters of all species.

To help others in their work for the world and to ask for help when I feel the need.

To pursue a daily spiritual practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart and supports me in observing these vows .

~ from One Earth Sangha website

Friday, November 13, 2015

May I Take Joy

As for suffering I do not wish even the slightest;
As for happiness I am never satisfied.
In this there is no difference between others and me.
May I take joy in others' happiness.

~ 1st Panchen Lama

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What the Day Gives by Jeanne Lohmann

What the Day Gives

by Jeanne Lohmann

Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder
in the middle of gray November
what I hoped to do comes back,

Across the street the fiery trees
hold onto their leaves,
red and gold in the final months
of this unfinished year,
they offer blazing riddles..

In the frozen fields of my life
there are no shortcuts to spring,
but stories of great birds in migration
carrying small ones on their backs,
predators flying next to warblers
they would, in a different season, eat.

Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world
that plunges in a single day from despair
to hope and back again, I commend my life
to Ruskin's difficult duty of delight,
and to that most beautiful form of courage,
to be happy.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crippled becomes whole

Tao te ching verse 22:

Crippled becomes whole,
Crooked becomes straight,
Hollow becomes full,
Worn becomes new,
Little becomes more,
Much becomes delusion.

Therefore Sages cling to the One
   And take care of this world;
Do not display themselves
   And therefore shine;
Do not assert themselves
   And therefore stand out;
Do not praise themselves
   And therefore succeed;
Are not complacent
   And therefore endure;
Do not contend
   And therefore no one under heaven
      Can contend with them.

The old saying
Crippled becomes whole
Is not empty words.

It becomes whole and returns.

~ from the superb English translation by Addiss and Lombardo

Friday, October 30, 2015

Leaving It To You

Leaving It to You 

by Wu Pen (Chia Tao) (779-843)

Self evident, truth mistakes no thing.
But my heart's a long way from there
and nothing's very clear.
Yellow gold is almost burned up
by my desire.
White hair grows beside the fire.
Bitter indecision: choose This, or maybe That.
Even the spirit speaks in riddles
and makes it hard to harvest
the essence of a single day.
Catch the wind while you tether shadows.
Faith, or a man who'll stand by his word, is
all there is. There is no disputing.

English translation by J.P. Seaton
from The Poetry of Zen
edited by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton

Out of These Branches the Path

"Conveyed from mouth to ear, there is no tradition, There are no textbooks. There is only direct meeting, direct experience. There is no practice without a teacher. There is no teacher without a community. There are souls destined to meet -- and free will and commitment, and loving-kindness and fellowship. And out of these branches the path."

~ Perle Besserman

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Anyone can be a teacher

"Just as an acorn can only become an oak tree when it receives nourishment from the soil, water and sun, we need to be open to 'nourishment' from our teachers in order to receive the Buddhist insights. Anyone can be a teacher to us; the person I hate, the homeless person...everyone and everything everywhere nurtures me."

~ Taitetsu Unno

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lost in the Woods

If I'm wandering lost in the woods, but don't know I'm lost, that's ignorance.

If I've seen or been told that I'm lost, but won't admit the possibility, that's denial.

If I know I'm lost, that's clarity.

If I accept the fact that I'm a human capable of getting lost, that's humility.

If I'm willing to experience my confusion and fear, that's courage.

If I know and accept being lost and fearful, and am willing to do something in response, that's clarity and responsibility -- and freedom.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Value ignorance as much as knowledge

Offer yourself to the world—your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart—with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail. To grow in love and service, you, I, all of us, must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success. I know this is ironic advice..., but clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life. So, cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn. That’s the path to a life lived large in service of love, truth, and justice.

~ Parker J. Palmer, commencement address at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, May 10, 2015,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The price of freedom

"[W]hile we offer the teaching freely, that doesn’t mean that it comes without a significant price, a steep one at that, and that price is the courage to place yourself inside an alchemical crucible of body and mind, to play with balance in the sitting posture for long hours, to confront the way in which you inhibit your breath, to relax your habitual patterns of resistance and undergo a profound process of transformation. Nothing could be more natural, but don’t think that shifting our patterns of body and mind 180 degrees is the proverbial piece of cake. Our mind is evidently far more drawn to continuing along in the groove of its confusion, and our body apparently prefers the familiarity of its holding patterns to the at times wild ride of relaxing and dissolving them. But when we’re able to make this shift, when we have the courage to face what we’ve been resisting for so very long, wonderful things can start to happen, and whatever we have to do to enact this shift in consciousness—from the unnatural back to the natural—is a price well worth paying."

~ Will Johnson,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BGR Seattle events

Description: BGR logo quality transparent 2.gif
Seattle Walk to Feed the Hungry with Bhikkhu Bodhi

October 16 - Public Talk

October 17 - Walk to Feed the Hungry

Buddhist Global Relief's annual Walk to Feed the Hungry highlights the important issue of global hunger. This year the Seattle Walk will take place on Saturday October 17.  

The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, the founder of Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), is known around the world as a leading scholar-monk and translator. We are very happy that he will be attending the Seattle Walk to Feed the Hungry for the first time this year.

Bhikkhu Bodhi will also give a public talk on "Forging a Moral Vision in an Age of Crisis" at 7:00 p.m. on Friday October 16 at the Seattle Insight Meditation Society, 2729 - 6th Ave South. For more information visit

Everyone is welcome to participate in the Walk to Feed the Hungry, a community event sponsored by Buddhist Global Relief and the Northwest Dharma Association. The Walk will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday October 17, at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. We'll walk a couple miles on Capitol Hill and then return to the Park, where Bhikkhu Bodhi will give a talk.

Even if you can't join us on the Walk, you can make a donation to Buddhist Global Relief’s work by visiting Seattle BGR's First Giving page.

Buddhist Global Relief was founded in 2007 as a relief organization dedicated to alleviating chronic malnutrition and hunger around the world. BGR's Walks to Feed the Hungry take place in cities across the United States and abroad. To date, BGR has supported over 70 projects in aid, education, and agriculture around the globe including Asia, Africa, Haiti, and the United States. For more information, please visit

BGR Media Contact 
Carla Prater, Assistant Director 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


"[W]e are not struggling to become something we are not. We are learning to cooperate with what we always were."

~ John Makransky, Awakening Through Love

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Empty compassion breath

The antidote to attachment is recognizing everything as empty (of permanence, solidity, independence, etc)

The remedy for emptiness is compassion, resting openly in whatever arises.

The breath is a reliable gateway to both.

Rest in just recognizing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Contemplative Living and Dharma Immersion

Contemplative Living and Dharma Immersion


— Sincerely wishes to live in service to others and to the Dharma
— Yearns to support and deepen your Buddhist practice
— Desires to live and work in a small community of like-minded practitioners
— Is deeply committed to right speech and the ever-present challenge of honest and compassionate communication
— Can imagine living where the nearest movie theater is 40 miles away
— Enjoys deer grazing outside your window and coyotes yipping in the moonlight
— Loves a crisp winter snowfall, the scent of balsamroot and lupine in the spring, and the dry winds of summer

READ ON . . .

With its first Three Year Retreat planned to start on April 4, 2015, Kagyu Changchub Chuling (KCC) is searching for qualified, mature practitioners to live and work at its rural retreat center, Ser Chö Ösel Ling, to support the long-retreat. (For more information on Ser Cho Osel Ling, please see our website at

The primary practical responsibilities of the retreat team are:
1. Providing for the general wellbeing of retreatants, a group of up to 16 living in a cloistered environment of intensive dharma practice.
2. Attending to the dharma teachers who provide spiritual guidance for retreat.
3. Caring for the facilities, vehicles, equipment and natural landscape that make retreat possible. The positions require both autonomous decision-making and the ability to live and work closely with other stipend volunteers and with the retreat teachers.

People on the retreat team need skills or experience in two or more of the following categories: meal preparation and planning for 12-16 people, kitchen management, dishwashing and food prep, general administration and budgets, human resources. While we are primarily looking for people with kitchen and administrative skills, those with experience in construction and facilities management, vehicle and road maintenance, and land stewardship will also be considered.

A modest stipend plus and room and board are provided. Candidates who have long term, stable experience in a spiritual community, and willingness to do the hard work of evolving a stipend volunteer community at SCOL will be given high priority.

If you have appropriate skills or experience and appreciate what a precious opportunity it is to support those in long retreat, please submit your résumé and three references right away to:
Tim Campbell & Linda Besant

Friday, January 16, 2015

Don't stop thinking

Every practice is a medicine for a specific ailment.

Letting go is the medicine for clinging and grasping to things as solid and permanent.
Too much letting go, you'll lose your hygiene and community.
Crazy wisdom is a way of testing your attachment to conventional social "reality".
Too much crazy wisdom and you'll become an unethical monster.

The thinking mind's discrimination and planning are essential and wonderful.
Prajna is the discriminating sword, cutting the false from the actual.
But the thinking mind, disconnected from senses and heart, can fall into distorted perception.
Mind, heart, and senses are meant to work together.
The mind thinks it's the highest and believes it's in control -- obviously not so -- just lay your hand on a hot stove and the body will take charge.

Don't abandon any of your faculties.
Look into all perceptions and discern the false from the actual.
Learn to feel when the mind is racing and distorted, and bring body and heart back into awareness.
Beware ideas or emotions that tell you to abandon sense or sensitivity.

First, do no harm.
Second, intend to do good.
Third, purify perception.
This is the teaching of the Buddha.