Tuesday, January 31, 2012


     "we don't have to look outside the present moment to experience wisdom, compassion, and the boundless purity of our true nature. In fact, these things can't be found anywhere but the present moment."     Mingyur Rinpoche

     Shambhala  Sun March 2012  http://www.shambhalasun.com/

Monday, January 30, 2012

Everything Changes

     With continued practice, a gradual shift occurs even in the intention behind practicing - from self-regulation, to self-exploration, and finally self-liberation.
       Shapiro DH. A preliminary study of long-term meditators: Goals, effects, religious orientation, cognitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 1992; 24(1): 23-39.

     “Healing our personal wounds becomes a first step in a process that gradually widens to include compassion for the suffering of everyone & everything…”
       Germer CK, Siegel RD, Fulton PR eds. “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.” The Guilford Press, NY, 2005.

Photo: BonzaiZG  www.dpreview.com

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Always there

     "we can find peace of mind in the midst of raging emotions, profound insight in the midst of complete confusion, and the seeds of compassion in our darkest moments, even when we feel completely lost and alone."          Mingyur Rinpoche                    

     Shambhala Sun, March 2012  http://www.shambhalasun.com/

Photo: David A. Lovas

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Intimate engagement

     “True Zen masters live through and through. You can see it in the way they pour tea, place their shoes together outside the meditation hall, walk down the road. You can feel the presence of their intimacy with all things in their undivided way of engaging in any activity their daily lives may bring. There is a vitality in their manner of speaking and in their gestures, no matter how small, that makes it seem that the whole of life has just entered the room. And it has. … this is Zen. It is not something special, to be found exclusively in the meditation hall, but rather it is the aliveness we bring to our everyday lives, the aliveness that is already present within us waiting to emerge.”

     Kwong J. No beginning, no end. The intimate heart of Zen. Harmony Books, NY, 2003.

Photo: Cabowner     www.dpreview.com

Friday, January 27, 2012


     "essence of mind ... unborn, indestructible, calm and clear

     we focus on this eternal essence by turning our light inward without the gaining mind."

     Kwong J. No beginning, no end. The intimate heart of Zen. Harmony Books, NY, 2003.

Photo: Fl_Gulfer    www.dpreview.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

So much to share

     “… practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.” 

     Kabat-Zinn J. “Full catastrophe living. Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness”. Dell Publishing, NY, 1990.

National Gallery of Canada  http://www.gallery.ca/en/index.php

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


     “The key to self-development … is the experience of … a state of relaxed concentration in which the individual neither freezes out of fear nor clings due to desire. … the free flow of vital energy within the body and between the body and the universe.”

     Sayama MK. “Samadhi. Self-development in Zen, swordsmanship, and psychotherapy.” State University of New York Press. 1986.

Artist: Alex Colville   "Seven Crows"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Studying the way

"To study the way is to study the self
To study the self is to forget the self
To forget the self is to be enlightened
by all things of the universe.
To be enlightened by all things is to
transcend the distinction of self and other
and to go on in ceaseless enlightenment forever."

Dogen Kigen Zenji

Y Bagourdas   www.dpreview.com

Monday, January 23, 2012


     "Just practice good, do good for others, without thinking of making yourself known so that you may gain reward. Really bring benefit to others, gaining nothing for yourself. This is the primary requisite for breaking free of attachments to the Self."                                       Dogen Zenji

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The still small voice within

"Do not follow the ideas of others,
but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. 
Your body and mind will become clear
and you will realize the unity of all things."               Dogen

Saturday, January 21, 2012


     "... a wonderful role model of a non-constricted heart that comes when we are not defending a certain image of who we are. When we relax our heart without trying to ‘be’ special, we can be who we truly are, with honesty and compassion"

Sharon Salzberg, referring to the Dalai Lama     http://www.sharonsalzberg.com/

Friday, January 20, 2012


"All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of things
shall be well."                              Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), English mystic

Misty Ireland

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Without the Burden of Extra Baggage

     “In a group interview, Jack Kornfield innocently asked (Dipa Ma), ‘What is it like in your mind?’

     Dipa Ma smiled, closed her eyes, and quietly answered, ‘In my mind there are three things: concentration, loving-kindness, and peace.’
     Jack, not sure if he had heard correctly, asked, ‘Is that all?’
     ‘Yes, that is all,’ Dipa Ma replied.
      The room was silent. Then there were a few sighs and quiet laughs, followed by Jack’s barely audible whisper, ‘How wonderful.’”

Amy Schmidt. “Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master.” BlueBridge, NY, 2005.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


     "Self-transcendence refers to the ability to move beyond self-centered consciousness, and to see things as they are with clear awareness of human nature and human problems, and with a considerable measure of freedom from biological and social conditioning.
     ... transcending the self is needed to move beyond ingrained, automatic ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and to connect empathetically with the experiences of others."

     Le TN, Levenson MR. Wisdom as self-transcendence: What's love (& individualism) got to do with it? Journal of Research in Personality 2005; 39(4): 443-457.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Who am I?

     “We have many different perceptions of self. Each sense of self is strategic, a means to an end. Each comes with a boundary, inside of which is ‘self’ and outside of which is ‘not-self.’ And so our sense of what’s self and what’s not-self keeps changing all of the time depending on our desires and what we see will lead to true happiness.”

     Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). Selves & Not-Self. Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA, 2011. ebook downloadable from: http://dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html

Monday, January 16, 2012


     "Whatever you call it, there is something in the psyche, in the greater consciousness, that knows these states and this terrain. And when the mind is deeply concentrated and open, and resolutions are made, magic happens. And of course, this can lead to the highest magic of all, as the Buddha said, the magic of the wisdom that liberates the heart."                    Jack Kornfield 

 Bluebell wood, Ireland

Sunday, January 15, 2012


     "The change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather ... is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim."                             from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

     “I have watched people choose growth over fear as they navigated some of life’s most difficult transitions. I have seen how it is possible to approach the challenges of real life with openness and optimism – even with wisdom and joy.”

       Lesser E. “Broken open. How difficult times can help us grow.” Villard, NY, 2005.
     "I just had to keep going, even though the cockpit was shaking mightily just before breaking the sound barrier."
       The first pilot to break the sound barrier.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

But what dies?

     "In Zen practice it's your conditioned self and self-centeredness that die. When we become aware of these delusions, they begin to dissolve. Therefore you are not hindered by these obstacles. Then your true being vividly comes alive."

     Kwong J. No beginning, no end. The intimate heart of Zen. Harmony Books, NY, 2003.

Friday, January 13, 2012


     One way of reconnecting with our center is by being with the feel of the breath in our belly - expanding outwards with in-breath, contracting inwards with out-breath. 
     Equally, being with the still, silent epicenter of the breath in the belly, from which things begin and return.
     Our journey is re-synchronizing with this basic rhythm of life - finding our way home.

Ancient stone circle, Ireland

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Identity Styles & Human Evolution of Consciousness

     "Spiritual practice is stepping out of the assumed reality of ‘me’ by understanding what the ‘me’ is and withdrawing energy from its perceptual fixations. ... the realization & integration of anatta (is) central.”
     Smith R. "Stepping out of self-deception. The Buddha's liberating teaching of no-self." Shambhala, Boston, 2010.

     There are "three identity styles that differ in the social-cognitive processes employed to deal with identity-relevant questions and concerns.

     ... diffuse-avoidant identity style - ‘‘reluctant to face up to and confront personal problems & decisions’’. ... predict(s) problematic qualities (eg neuroticism), coping & decisional strategies (eg disengagement), and mental health outcomes (eg depression).

     ... normative identity style - ‘‘deal with identity questions and decisional situations by conforming to the prescriptions and expectations of significant others’’. ... associated with high self-esteem & educational purpose, ... associated with the tendency to be conservative, authoritarian, & racist.

     ... informational identity style - ‘‘actively seek out, evaluate, and use self-relevant information’’. ... associated with openness to experience, introspectiveness, self-reflection, & cognitive complexity. ... the only form ... that positively predicts mature adjustment in the form of psychological hardiness, personal growth, & life purpose. 
       Beaumont SL. Identity styles and wisdom during emerging adulthood: Relationships with mindfulness and savoring. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research 2011; 11(2): 155-180.


"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there."           William Carlos Williams - pediatrician, poet, novelist, playwright

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And how's that working for you?

     "When we truly live each moment, what happens to the burden of life? ... If we are totally what we are, in every second, we begin to experience life as joy. Standing between us and a life of joy are our thoughts, our ideas, our expectations, and our hopes and fears.
     ... people who have been practicing for some time begin to have a sense of humor about their burden. After all, the thought that life is a burden is only a concept. We're simply doing what we're doing, second by second by second. The measure of fruitful practice is that we feel life less as a burden and more as a joy."

Beck CJ. Nothing special: Living Zen. HarperCollins, 1995.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Intimate engagement

     "The work of questioning deeply into the human mind is more than concern for specific issues, or specific problems. The whole human condition is embraced. This work is not doing what we normally do and have been doing for hundreds of years: rushing to solve problems in a more or less violent way. This work is to understand a problem, not just superficially, or even deeply, but totally. It is to understand so completely that the problem may be resolved through this understanding and not through any 'solution' at all."

Packer T. The work of this moment. Charles E. Tuttle Co Inc, Boston, 1995.

Here comes the sun ...

"In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer."        Albert Camus

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why be mindful?

     "Be always mindful of what you are doing and thinking, so that you may put the imprint of your immortality on every passing incident of your daily life."     
                                                                                                       Abd'l-Khaliq Ghijdewani, 13th century Sufi

"The fragrance of blossoms soon passes;
the ripeness of fruit is gone in a twinkling.
Our time in this world is so short,
better to avoid regret:
Miss no opportunity to savor the ineffable."                        Loy Ching Yuen, 20th century Taoist

Walsh R. Essential spirituality. The 7 central practices to awaken heart and mind. John Wiley & Sons Inc, NY, 1999.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Healing, Growth

"All are nothing but flowers
in a flowering universe."                                Nakagawa Soen-Roshi

     "Healing is the ever-deepening process of bringing together or integrating that which is split or separated in an individual so that all aspects of that individual function as one, in harmony with self and environment."
     Bub B. "Communication skills that heal. A practical approach to a new professionalism in medicine." Radcliffe Publishing, 2006.

     "Growth fundamentally means an enlarging and expanding of one's horizons, a growth of one's boundaries, outwardly in perspective & inwardly in depth. ... Growth is reapportionment; re-zoning; re-mapping; an acknowledgment, and then enrichment, of ever deeper and more encompassing levels of one's own self."
     Wilber K. "No boundary. Eastern and Western approaches to personal growth." Shambhala, 1979.

Rudy Pohl   http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudypohl/sets/

Sky, water, wind, earth

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What's Love Got to Do with It?

     "Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."              George Washington Carver

     "You learn about a thing ... by opening yourself wholeheartedly to it. You learn about a thing by loving it."                                             Barbara McClintock - Nobel prize-winning geneticist

     "The truth is, what one really needs is not Nobel prizes but love. How do you think one gets to be a Nobel laureate? Wanting love, that's how. Wanting it so bad one works all the time and ends up a Nobel laureate. It's a consolation prize.
     What matters is love."                              George Wald - Nobel prize-winning biologist from Harvard

        McClintock quote from: Jauregui A. "Epiphanies. Where Science and Miracles Meet." Atria Books, 2007.
       Wald quote from: Kornfield J. "A Path with Heart. A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life." Bantam Books, 1993.

All in a dream

Neil Young's "It's a dream"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJNB8fXje3I

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nature, Beauty, Gratitude

Thank you again Nancy for bringing attention to this fine TEDxTalk by time-lapse film maker Louie Schwartzberg:



     "To listen" in Chinese

     "The characters in 'ting' represent the eyes, the ears, the heart, (the total being) and undivided attention. ... Listening requires the whole being to be involved when trying to understand what is being communicated. And the concept of undivided attention is crucial. ... one listens with the whole being."

        Beall ML. Perspectives on intercultural listening. in Wolvin AD ed. Listening and human communication in the 21st century. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2010.

     You may wish to see: http://www.johnlovas.com/2012/01/mystery-essence-of-all-life.html

Post-traumatic growth

     "Of course, not all people grow from crisis. Some refuse to accept the need for redefinition, and orchestrate their own intellectual and emotional shutdown. Those who do grow manage to stay awake to the anguish, confusion, and self-doubt. This requires a high degree of tolerance for discomfort, as well as the ability to see the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. Over time, the people who continue to struggle emerge wiser, kinder and more resilient. After they have broken and rebuilt themselves, they feel less breakable.
      Living is a complicated process, a journey of discovery that never ceases. As I grow older, the basic facts of life seem increasingly simple. The closer we live to our core, the more we realize that we are like other people. My fear and sorrow are yours, as is my harsh self-judgment. My desire to be good and to feel loved is your desire, too. We all seek peace."

       Pipher M. "Seeking peace. Chronicles of the worst Buddhist in the world." Riverhead Books, NY, 2009.

Joy Acharyya  http://photography.nationalgeographic.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012


"If you always assume the person sitting next to you is the Messiah waiting for some human kindness,
You will soon come to weigh your words and watch your hands.
And if he/she so chooses not to reveal him/herself in your time - It will not matter."                                                                            A Rabbi's Proverb

Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Before you know what kindness really is":

Kindness to strangers

Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Blossoming in Silence

     "The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive - it has nothing to do with time. It happens completely on its own when a human being questions, wonders, listens and looks without getting stuck in fear, pleasure and pain. When self concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open. The mystery, the essence of life is not separate from the silent openness of simple listening."                                                                  Toni Packer

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reality of practice

     "We come to practice because there are aspects of our mind that we don't know how to come to terms with. ... anger ... sexuality ... anxiety. It can be anything we haven't come to terms with in our lives. But in our sitting, we find out that we have to face exactly those things that we don't want to face. Joko (Beck) used to say that it usually took several years for people to see what practice was really about, and then most of them would quit. They would go off and find some way of pursuing their idealized fantasy of the spiritual life, rather than admit that practice inevitably means sitting with our ordinary mind.

     Joko always talked about sitting as building a bigger container, and what was contained was primarily emotion. She wanted the container to hold all the painful, messy, inconvenient things that we usually come to practice to get away from. We sit still with what we came to avoid. Although the pain we may be most immediately aware of is the pain in our knees, everything we avoid is a form of pain, and all are ultimately grounded in the pain of embodied impermanence."

Magid B. Ending the pursuit of happiness - a Zen guide. Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2008.


Monday, January 2, 2012

How does it feel?

     "I find this to be a helpful reflection and one that we can test for ourselves: when we behave in ways that are ugly, selfish, cruel, or greedy, what does that feel like? At those times we are less than human; we are out of harmony with life; we feel bad about ourselves. There is an imbalance in the system. The heart can't open in the midst of this chaos.
     We can also see for ourselves what happens when we behave in kind and skillful ways. What does that feel like? We feel good about ourselves, and there's a sense of harmony with all things. The heart is open and receptive to the whole panoply of life. We still may be ignorant in many ways, and still prone to all kinds of suffering, but to have this basic sensitivity and nobility of conduct is synonymous with true humanity."

Amaro Bikkhu "Small boat, great mountain." 2003

From stillness and silence, again and again

     "Wisdom can develop only in a mind that is continually reoriented and grounded in truth and selflessness."

Amaro Bikkhu "Small boat, great mountain." 2003

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Liking without clinging

     "One day a group of attractive young women came to (the monastery) ... from the local nursing college ... Ajahn Chah gave them a Dharma talk and chatted with their teachers, professors, and so on. Ajahn Sumedho sat next to him for the several hours that this session went on. Sitting in the company of several dozen attractive young women at such close quarters was not something that happened often to the young Bhikku Sumedho.
     ... after the party from the college had gone, Ajahn Chah turned around and asked, 'So, Sumedho, how do you feel? What did that do to your mind?' ... And Ajahn Sumedho said ... 'I like, but I don't want.' Ajahn Chah was very pleased with this response. In fact, he was so impressed by it, that at every Dharma talk for the next two or three weeks, he referred to it, 'This is the essential practice of the Dharma. There is the acknowledgement that this is attractive, this is beautiful, but then there is also the choice: Do I really want it? Do I have to possess it? Do I need to chase after it? No, I don't have to. Without fear, repression, or aversion, there is a turning away.'"

Amaro Bikkhu "Small boat, great mountain." 2003