life is our guru, our teacher. …and oh man can it be tough!
we can choose to ignore it, attach to what we only like, push away and fight what we don’t like, a fancy combo of all three, or…we can meet our life where it is. we can practice meeting our life where it is. and we can do so with an open heart.
how else to learn, how else to turn suffering into love?
no one can live our life for us. this great mystery, this life, is ours to engage fully with hearts open.
and our time to do so is brief. as the Buddhist teachings say in the Diamond Sutra, “So you should view this fleeting world as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud…”
it passes so quickly. there is an urgency to engage our life. the Evening Gatha in Zen says:
Let me respectfully remind you:
Life and Death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
On this night, the days of our life are decreased by one.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed! Do not squander your life.
we are urged to go deep, to go fully – so we sit, we breathe, we unfold, we open, we love in the only way we truly can, with our entire life.~j
i was a freshman in high school sitting on the bus to go home and a voice behind me said, “Saw you running in P.E. today. You run like a girl. What are you – a faggot?”
i can still feel it in my body. it’s incredible how the body can store such experience. this was 1989/1990 and we didn’t have a Gay/Straight Alliance, no one at my high school was “out” and i wasn’t out to my family or friends. i was alone with my fear.
so many LGBTQ+ kids have it worse, facing mental and physical bullying and abuse, just for being who they are.
things are better now in a lot of ways, more resources, more allies, but bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, especially towards our Transgender family, continues.
we may know how true it is that bullies are actually quite weak and fearful, but the harm they bring acting out of their fear and weakness can manifest very real consequences and trauma to our LGBTQ+ family who are bullied.
make the decision to speak out on bullying and stand up to bullying wherever it is manifest. ~j
Let go of any ideas about meditation. There is no call to be special. Drop the whole project of enlightenment & just sit. Not being attached to samadhi, satori, awakening, being a Bodhisattva. Do not separate from that which is your experience right now by reaching toward a goal.~Roshi Joan Halifax
meditation is deceptively simple. could there be anything more simple and natural than sitting and breathing? yet, the very act of simply sitting upright and supported, open and receptive, placing our attention on our breathing, can be so foreign to our daily life, and opposite to our habitual patterns of tasking, ruminating, and trying to manipulate, control, and achieve. in this way it is quite profound. we breathe on our own naturally, but to mindfully stop and sit? it seems not so.so the teaching begins with this:Just Sit. ~j
*a while back, i created some calligraphy with this simple and direct reminder. it is available to purchase as various prints framed/unframed, posters, pins, stickers, houseware, decor, and apparel at JMWart, my Resbubble store. you can visit directly at JMWart.redbubble.com or via my website (www.jaysenwaller.com). ⭕️❤️🙏🏻
if we want to sustain, if we want resilience and balance and to maintain our clarity, we must move beyond our initial anger at injustice and be fueled instead by love. anger is our reaction to harm, it is clarifying and initially beneficial, but it can lead to aggression. love, however, sparks and sustains action. love in action is compassion.
if we are not motivated by love and living out compassion, we are in danger of burnout, cynicism, bitterness and even hate. we may become the very monster we think we are valiantly here to slay.
what good have we done then? how have we brought healing and benefit then? have we just added to the war, or have we worked to bring true justice and peace?
Mornië utúlië (darkness has come) Mornië alantië (darkness has fallen)
if our hearts are open, if we can manage to stay with the suffering we see, allowing it in, so that our compassion may be awakened, then that compassion will lead us into action to end suffering.
darkness may come and imbalance may take hold, but with the engagement of open hearts, empathy, wisdom and fierce compassion courageously put into action, the imbalance of darkness will fall and harmony can manifest. ~j
*this art is now available for purchase as prints framed/unframed, on household items, accessories, and apparel 🤗check out at the JMWart Redbubble online store directly at JMWart.redbubble.com or linked through my website (www.jaysenwaller.com)👍🏻
let’s not forget the toll this pandemic has & is taking on people’s lives & the lives of their loved ones & those left behind. let us not become indifferent to loss, to pain, to suffering.
it’s quite easy at the moment, here in California, to feel like the pandemic has run its final lap. California at this moment is in a better position in regards to cases & transmission than other states here in the US & also other countries. this is good news for those of us who live here, but California isn’t the rest of the country, or the world. there are still several states who are having to make the difficult decision of rationing hospital care & denying care, deciding who may or may not be viable & if able having to send patients out to other states to be treated. the US Air Force Reserves have been called up to fly patients from one state to another to receive lifesaving care. immense gratitude to our service members for serving in such a way.
on the world stage, this pandemic is far from over, w/ many countries still waiting for vaccines so they can vaccinate their populations. as long as the virus continues to transmit, it will continue to evolve new variants & we will continue to struggle. as our country struggles to fully reopen, even while divisive infighting over mask wearing & vaccine mandates continues, let us not lose sight of the bigger picture, the fuller picture of not just our country, but the world’s situation. when able, enjoy each other fully & safely. continue to social distance & wear masks when needed & if eligible/able get vaccinated not just for oneself, but as an act of empathy & compassion for others, for our communities, our country, our world.
the economy has importance, re-emerging into a new normal (a better normal?) is important, but let us not forget those who have suffered & those who continue to suffer, let us not forget the toll this pandemic has taken & in many places is still taking. let us vow to do our part to end suffering, end this pandemic & not lose the heart in our humanity in the process. ~j
dear beautiful friends, i’m a day late but… Happy #NationalComingOutDay!🏳️🌈🙏🏻 the when, where, and how of coming out is a highly personal journey, but please know that our authenticity and our diversity is our beauty and strength!we have a long way to go, especially for our Transgender family who are particularly marginalized and targeted in this current time. we must stand up and speak out for all to have the opportunity to live fully and with love. we are all worthy of love and luminous manifestations of life. i created this LGBTQ+ Pride Buddha earlier this year and i’m happy to say it is now available as various art prints unframed and framed, on clothing, household items, and accessories at my Redbubble store, JMWart. you can go directly visit via my website (www.jaysenwaller.com). share your Pride🏳️🌈🙏🏻❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 ~j
today is Vietnamese Zen master, poet, peace activist, and inspirational forebearer of Engaged Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh’s 95th birthday (or Continuation Day as is said in many Buddhist circles).
Thay (as his students call him) was my gateway into Buddhism and remains a guiding force on this path. i consider Thay my root teacher. though only having seen him once in person, his teachings, books, and art have had an undeniable inspirational effect on my life, practice, and art.
his gentleness, his clarity, his warmth and wisdom are hallmarks of embodying an open heart, compassion and wakefulness. i feel confident in saying that my path as meditation practitioner, teacher, and contemplative artist or my wanting to be of benefit to the world simply would not be without his presence and influence on this lifetime. he and his art remain prominent in my heart and on my altar space.
may Thay continue to bring light and love into this world, benefitting a world in need of healing and peace. ~j
we too often legitimize physical health over mental health, not recognizing or aware that physical health affects mental health and mental health affects physical health. what we think of as two, are in fact one relationship, both legitimate and both in need of our awareness and care.
on #WorldMentalHealthDay we stand in solidarity and affirm all who struggle with mental health, to remove stigma, open communication, and encourage ourselves, family, and friends to seek help when needed. we should remember that self-care is mental health and self-care looks like:-
rest- setting boundaries- saying “no”- going for a walk- exercise- drinking water- communing with nature- meditating- laughter- journaling- creating art- eating good food- asking for help- therapy- medication.
what other self-care can you think of to add to your list? ~j
*pictured: Semicolon Enso with short verse, “you are life, you are loved.”
**image available at JMWart (link in images and in bio) – a portion of any products sales with this art and design will be donated to organizations who serve and advocate for mental health awareness and those who struggle with mental health.