Today our friend Vu Dang passed. I write “our friend” because anyone who embodies love and light as Vu does is truly a friend to this world, to all life. I am holding in my heart his dear wife/partner Chris, his family, his friends, and all touched by his teaching at Dang Good Yoga. I sat and meditated today with Vu in my heart, practicing Metta (lovingkindness). Vu was a friend to anyone he encountered, a beloved teacher and Yogi. I would say (though he’d disagree) that he was also a Zen master. In the face of suffering, he remained the epitome of courage, of open-heartedness, of kindness and gentleness, of presence. He practiced with Thich Nhat Hanh’s community and embodied Thay’s gatha – “I have arrived, I am home.” And to be in Vu’s presence was to surely feel that we had also arrived and were home.
A few years ago, I had created some artwork to be raffled at a fundraiser put together by wonderful friends to benefit Vu in his struggle with cancer. I also created a piece specifically inspired and for Vu, for his birthday. It took me a year to finally give it to him in person (he was so patient and gracious about that, of course). It is pictured below. It touched my heart deeply and with gratitude to see him post the art from time to time as a reminder to others that they too “are the sound of life, the song of love” to “just be” – most recently as his New Year’s greeting/post and another time with the note to “Please remember…”
I am grateful to have first met Vu in high school so many years ago, grateful to reconnect, grateful to learn from his presence – I know I will continue to learn from his presence as I continue the practice, of being open-hearted, kind, and brave. I hope to one day have his grace, his wisdom, his presence. I know a light like his doesn’t dim, that such a light is with us as we practice, as we live and love.
I will repost specific details on donations to the UCSD Moore Cancer Center, when his family provides them. In the meantime, please keep them in your heart, in your prayers, and let us live as open-hearted with love as Vu 😌❤️🙏🏻📿
[photo credit: Hu Yuanjia]
i keep these photographs in my phone to look at every once in a while.
briefly, the story around them, goes as so: the photographer heard someone yelling and then people gathering around an elderly man sitting on a bench in a train station. he had apparently fallen asleep and then passed away. out of the crowd, a Buddhist monk walked over and began chants and prayers over the deceased man, holding his hand. after completing the ritual, the monk bowed to the deceased man and then disappeared into the crowd.
i find this story and these images so moving. there’s so much beauty in seeing such empathy and compassion in action. the monk, treating the deceased man with an incredible depth of dignity and compassion.
keep images and stories like this close to your hearts during this time, friends. where we don’t see it, we can be it.
we are currently seeing a grave lacking of empathy, of treating others with dignity, of compassion from the highest offices. it is worrisome. however, these values, these ways of being still exist, and where they exist there is hope.
“Our lives are like the plants, floating along the water’s edge, illumined by the moon.”
of this life
for a time.
just as easily
and all too quickly.
Zen Evening Gatha
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
This night your days are diminished by one.
Do not squander your life.
Hello friends –
Buddhist teacher, thinker, and activist Michael Stone transitioned from this life to the next last night. Although I didn’t know him personally, I have valued his teachings both through his YouTube vlogs and his writings. Very real, very accessible, and always with a sense of tenderness and genuine curiosity. His presence will be missed. The openness and generosity of his partner and wife, Carina along with other members of his family and loved ones during the past 24 or so hours has been an incredible act of grace as they practiced openly and invited all those touched by Michael’s teachings to join them in practice.
Although I have many favorite Michael dharma talks, I have some particular favorites below for you to view. Michael had this thing he did “5 Minute Dharma Talks” which I have loved to go back to from time to time. They were like a clarifying anchor in my practice.
May they bring benefit to your practice as well:
The heart of non-attachment – Michael Stone
Redefining the present moment – Michael Stone
The gift of our wounds – Michael Stone
a longer talk/conversation with Zoketsu Norman Fischer:
Nobody’s Life Is Just Their Life
Mindfulness & Concentration: Practice Tips with Michael Stone
Michael was also at the forefront of practice and social engagement, which you get a glimpse of in his videos I’ve posted above. We are certainly in a time when this is not only beneficial, but necessary.
May Michael’s teachings continue to be of benefit as the generosity of the dharma ripples out from heart to heart, into the world.
bows of gratitude
Dia de los Muertos
a day to reflect on those who have passed, but haven’t left us. a lifting of the veil revealing that we are all One, interconnected through space and time, life and death, in this always moving ground of Being. through memory and ritual, offering prayers of honor, respect and gratitude.
the theme of death is an integral part of Buddhist practice, not as some morbid practice – but practice for what is inevitable and a sacred part of life. something we so desperately try to avoid in our culture, namely: sickness, aging, and dying – in another word, change.
practicing “death” is practicing “life.” each out breath is a death and each in breath is life reborn. an opportunity to be grateful for, an opportunity to continue this adventure of learning to love better and open our hearts.
perhaps this is what our loved ones, who have passed, are trying to tell us.
“In trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. It’s easy to forget that life and death are part of the natural scheme of things, intrinsic to our lives in an eternally shifting universe.”
~ Ronna Kobatznick
#life #death #practice #love #meditation #buddhism #interdependence #change #family #relationships #ghosts #TheMettaGarden
on the death of Justice Scalia and the celebration by some of loss and tragedy…
I think this is important.
the ability to disagree passionately, to oppose perhaps with rigor and defend what one feels is just and right, working to unravel what one feels is harmful in another’s opinions and actions. all the while, not forgetting a shared humanity. all the while, still seeking a place of common ground, a place to connect, to meet and find resolution.
in my life, in who I am, with what I believe, I have encountered many (some of whom are friends and relatives) who are in opposition to these things and even work against them. this can be hurtful and even cause harm. but they are not the enemy. the enemy may be ignorance, it may be fear, it may be harmful religion or politics, but not them.
I made the choice a long time ago, I could view these things as burdens, unfair and unjust. or, I could see them as opportunities to teach that there is another way. a way of love and openness.
It has been said that our “enemies” (strong wording with unfortunate resonance…perhaps read as those in opposition to you) are our greatest teachers. it can be they who challenge us to rise and rise, thereby benefitting this world.
all of this is transitory. we all love and care deeply. we will all age, break down and weaken. we will all get sick and have pain. we will experience loss and heartache. we will all die and our loved ones will grieve and weep. this is our shared journey.
let us rise.
this exquisite passing life. bows of gratitude…
“It is the radical transience of the world that makes it both tragic and beautiful, like the cherry blossom in Japanese aesthetics. The tragedy is that nothing actually exists; it is all passing away the instant it forms. The beauty is that we have the means to be aware of this, a moment to know the profound poignancy of this tiny corner of reality.”
~ Andrew Olendzki