love is our power…

we underestimate the power available to us. our use of energy, our words, our actions, our choices can bring much benefit or harm.

there’s a lot to say about love and a myriad of definitions. our view of love can be often quite superficial and narrow. love is far more spacious and expansive than i believe we often realize.

love is a long game, it is a marathon. love can be our compass and guide. love reflects our interdependence and is embodied with our compassion.

may we embody love, may we abide in love, may we let go into the flow of love.

~j

#love #interdependence #compassion #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #JinpaLhaga

#Vesak2021

today is Vesak, a Buddhist holiday commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. today, i decided to do some art to celebrate.

happy Vesak to all who observe!

may all beings be safe, healthy, happy and at ease! 🙏🏻

~j

#Vesak #BuddhaDay #SiddharthaGautama #Buddha #Buddhism #path #practice #JinpaLhaga #JMWart #art

samsara…

this old place.

i wonder

how many times

now?

i’ve lost count.

perhaps i’ll revisit

again.

~j

#path #practice #samsara #EngagedBuddhism #TibetanPrayerFlags #JinpaLhaga #poetry #JMWart #photography

recognizing reality…

Unity is not something we are called to create; it’s something we are called to recognize.

~ William Sloan Coffin

when we stub our toe, do our hands immediately without even thinking, move to bring comfort to that toe? or do they chop it off? our body acts as one body, one interdependent system. a unity.

when we live under an illusion of separateness, we are not aligned with reality and we reinforce that separateness through our words and actions. we act out of fear, greed, aggression, we marginalize, dehumanize and oppress the “other”, building walls and going on the attack.

this thinking and behavior becomes habit and patterns. the cycle feeds into itself and we have difficulty seeing clearly or breaking away. this illusion of separateness is our underlying neurosis.

so much harm and suffering comes from this illusion of separateness. when we get a glimpse of the basis of reality – that we are not separate beings, that we are interdependent with all life – we call that, waking up.

we recognize life as interdependent co-arising of phenomena. nothing exists alone. existence itself is unity. this is good news! we don’t have to manufacture what is already manifest. we just have to recognize it. we just have to wake up.

~j

#unity #interdependence #life #meditation #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #Zen #enso #JMWart #JinpaLhaga

it’s okay to feel…

If you haven’t wept deeply, you haven’t begun to meditate.

~Ajahn Chah

it is okay to feel. we are feeling, empathetic beings. when we open our hearts to receive the world & this life, emotions arise.

our neurosis comes from identifying w/ our emotions. “i am angry” “i am happy” “i am sad”, pushing away or denying emotions we don’t like & grasping at ones we do. this can create much suffering for ourselves & others.

BUT we are not our emotions. we are something that feels emotions & can observe emotions. like a vast blue sky which sometimes has white fluffy clouds & other times dark stormy clouds, all which pass. sometimes the sky is quite clear & bright! regardless, the sky is the sky no matter the clouds.

in meditation practice, we are encountering ourselves & our life w/ authenticity as it is in the moment, anchored by our sitting & our breath, we can watch emotions arise, allow the feeling, & allow them to pass. we don’t deny or push away, we don’t criticize & we don’t judge.

it is okay to feel. we can even label the feeling w/ tenderness & kindness, “ah, yes, it is you sadness, it is you anger, it is you bliss.” & then return our attention to what is our life at this moment – our sitting & our breathing.

there seem to be two myths around feeling emotions & recognizing emotions. one is that it is somehow weak to do so, but nothing could be further from the truth. feeling & recognizing emotions is authentic & quite brave. being in touch w/ emotions connects us to others who are also experiencing emotions in this life.

the second myth is that we are our emotions, but we are not our emotions (which change often due to outside circumstances). believing so, closes us off from the freshness & newness of life & creates a false identity of who we are, a role we begin to believe we need to play.

but we don’t have to fall for either myth. we can learn to be w/ our lives in a present & authentic way, while also aware of all that arises & falls away around us & within us, including the emotions we feel. meditation practice can help us learn this.

~j

#WorldMeditationDay #meditation #path #practice #OpenHeart #EngagedBuddhism #emotions #JMWart #JinpaLhaga #art

she who hears the cries of the world…

this is a photo i took of a Kuan Yin (also Guanyin) statue my mom gave me which sits on my shrine. Kuan Yin is the female embodiment in China of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. she is also known as Kannon in Japan. and in Tibet as a male form named Chenrezig. i’ve found it so inspiring how we yearn for the feminine in our spiritual traditions. perhaps, because they have been so male dominant. i read once that Goddess worship predates worship of a male creator God. perhaps this yearning is a return to an earlier understanding or a yearning to bring balance. whatever the case, i find comfort and strength in the feminine. the wonderful Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, who once said (and i paraphrase) that the incarnation of God as Jesus was as a masculine body and feminine soul. maybe that’s partly why i like Jesus so much. Catholicism puts emphasis on Mother Mary as an embodiment of compassion the faithful can call upon as well.

“she who hears the cries of the world” is one translation of Kuan Yin. poetic, beautiful, needed. and though many may call upon Kuan Yin for comfort in time of need, Buddhism also takes it in a different direction. we too are this embodiment. when her compassion is called upon, we are calling upon compassion within ourselves. in other words, as is often said, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. in the Christian view, one might say that we are the hands and heart of God in the world, embodying the love that is needed. in the Buddhist view, we can take a vow to be Bodhisattvas and embody the compassion of Avalokiteshvara, of Kuan Yin. when we hear the world cry, we can receive them, we can open our hearts, we can answer. rather that just praying for God or calling upon Kuan Yin to end war, to end gun violence, to end a pandemic, we can hear the cries, we can take responsibility and do the work needed, embody the compassion needed, for a world that is suffering.

~j

#KuanYin #compassion #bodhisattva #OpenHeart #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #JMWart #JinpaLhaga #photography #BWphotography

loyal to love…

we should align ourselves with love and embody love. what does love embodied look like? awareness, spaciousness, empathy, kindness, compassion, generosity, courage, balance, and wisdom.

these principles embodied are who we are beneath our ignorance and fear. they are who we are called to be and what spontaneously arises from an open and tender heart. though they can be found within and influence our religious traditions, they are beyond them. just as they can influence but are beyond governments, political parties, and geo-politics.

where these constructs don’t align with love and its principles, where they reject interdependence, they are eventually doomed to fail and we should reject them. this seems unlikely and perhaps unrealistic with governments, religious organizations, and institutions, etc.

however, these constructed bodies are made of individuals, they are made of us. as individuals we can decide to align with love, to embody love, to have our loyalty be to love and its principles. as individuals we can influence through our embodiment of love, our words, our actions, our art. this is moral integrity, this is spiritual maturity.

~j

#interdependence #love #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #JinpaLhaga

practice like a tree…

after teaching a meditation class for a group of friends earlier today, i decided to go for a walk. i needed to get outside, into the sun, into the fresh air, breathe, walk and listen to birds.

ever since i was a little kid, i’ve felt some sort of kinship with trees. i’m infatuated with them, their roots, their bark, the canopy of branches and leaves they create giving home to so many, and their relationship with earth and sky.

may we take root, deep into this earth with dignity and strength. may we reach up, bathing in the warmth and wisdom of the light. and may we stretch out in generosity and love to others in their need.

here are some photos from my walk and further evidence that for some reason i am consistently unable to look directly into the lens of a camera phone.

~j

#WalkingMeditation #nature #trees #life #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #JMWart #JinpaLhaga #photography

who are we leaving out?

among, not above.

it can be a revealing and beneficial exercise to take a deep look at and into who we personally (and as a country, a society, a political party, or a religion) leave out.

who falls outside of our circle? who are we okay with being marginalized and oppressed, if it means we feel a sense of safety and security? who are we okay with being powerless if we retain our power? who are we okay with going hungry as long as we have food? some die of thirst while others drown in excess.

ultimately there is no safety or security as long as anyone or any group is left out.

all life has dignity and life calls to be recognized as life and treated as so.

when this isn’t the case, when fear drives action and policy, we see destruction. and we are seeing this everywhere.

love life and live in the truth of interdependence. a society is made of individuals, so lasting change, a change in direction, a change towards love has to include each of us individually.

~j

#interdependence #OneLife #connection #OpenHeart #path #practice #EngagedBuddhism #JinpaLhaga