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:
a longer talk/conversation with Zoketsu Norman Fischer:
Nobody’s Life Is Just Their Life
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
the thing is, around every corner beauty is waiting to be seen,
anxiously calling our attention.
love is calling to be held close and to be given away.
beauty and love.
sometimes they are disguised as the wind dancing through and with the
willing, swaying trees.
sometimes they are disguised as the little ants working together in
purpose or in laughter from a good joke, or the taste of your favorite
food, or the look in your beloved’s eyes.
sometimes they are hidden in struggle and grief, pain and loss.
but they are always present.
can we see the beauty in our broken moments?
can we hold ourselves with love?
sometimes the beauty we find and the love we discover are in how we
respond to life.
we have the capacity of heart to respond to life with openness, with a
spacious quality that allows. love allows.
so we still ourselves.
becoming aware of our breath.
we listen with fresh ears.
we look deeply.
and we stay open.
everything is a miracle, every moment sacred.
it is all i can do
to just sit
here in this naked moment
my heart broken open
how else can all of this Love pour out?
…here i sit. at present words fail me, so i have pulled from words assembled in the past, reflecting a moment then, to reassemble them here in the present, reflecting this moment now.
i hesitate to use the word “lost” when regarding the passing of a friend. love is never lost, never gone nor diminished. love just transforms herself and continues her lovely dance into the next hall where her beauty can continue to grow and delight. how can the great work of love ever be done? nevertheless, in this transitory life we call home, when a friend continues their journey it is we who can feel lost.
i hold these uncomfortable feelings, these feelings of sadness for all who are suffering in this “loss.” i hold these feelings with tender care. allowing them to grow this heart in love and teach the bravery that is openness.
Lori Miles Rubino is a bright light, who has embodied bravery and openness, a gift to all who know her and have the privilege to call her friend. kind, compassionate, encouraging, funny, open and loving. a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, coach, friend, artist, photographer, and writer. her life has been one of great love, the work of a bodhisattva, as is so evident in the amazing family she has raised and of whom i am so grateful and adore.
in honor of her bravery, her openness, and her beautiful talent as a writer i want to invite and encourage you to read her blog One Toe Over the Line Sweet Mary. her most recent entries will shake you, wake you up, make you laugh and open your heart. do yourself the great favor and gift of reading her words. chew them, reflect and meditate on them. especially her entries, Forgiving and Dying among others. i was so moved in reading the latter – it was our final correspondence in the first week of January 2015 beyond mutual Facebook “like”ing more recently. i cherish it.
the rawness, i attempt to express in my words at the top of this page – is so deftly brought to life in Lori’s essays. i will be reblogging her work, here, to share.
love you, dear Lori, and so grateful for the gift of your love. i look forward to watching how it continues to grow in the hearts of all who know you and love you. rest in peace, kalyanamitra.
“I hold my face in my two hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm – two hands protecting, two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my sould from leaving me in anger.”
“…remember: man is not our enemy…the only thing worth of you is compassion – invincible, limitless, unconditional. Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
December 14th 2013
here we are. a year later.
my heart is still clinging to the lost lives of 20 innocent children. see their faces. know their faces. children who someday may have been artists, doctors, teachers, scientists, or parents with children of their own. what inventions have we missed out on? how many discoveries will have to wait? how many inspired dreams will look to find a new home – a new vehicle of birth into this world?
questions, we’ll never know the answer to.
6 innocent adults died that day as well. see their faces, know their faces.
bodies beyond recognition.
and a lone gunman also lost, even it seems before his horrific actions of that day. see his face, know his face.
such a tragedy, such a dark moment. 27 lives lost, and how many more disturbingly wounded?
and here we are a year later with not much more than our grief, our frustration, and a polarized people frozen in their views. aren’t we better than this?
we must get to a place where we can listen – listen. where we can dialogue without scapegoating the mentally ill, without scapegoating the media, without scapegoating responsible gun ownership. we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture runs much deeper than any vehicle in which it is carried out. we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture is much more subtle and therefore insidious than quick quotes or talking points that serve as distraction from the deep listening, the deep looking, the deep contemplation that is needed to bring healing and wholeness to our broken attempts at problem solving and our inability to find balance between privileges and rights. we must be open to seeing how violence lives not only in our actions, but in our words and thoughts…we must look to where this violence is born and how it feeds.
we must come to a place where the news of 20 massacred children at an elementary school stops us cold in our tracks, convicting our hearts into a response so urgent, so necessary that it calls upon our betters selves to deep reflection that motivates us into action. not action out of reaction and fear or hatred or bitterness, but action out of empathy, out of interdependence and sense of community. it must be action out of compassion to end suffering at all costs, not perpetuation through the same deluted ideas and philosphies. action that says – these lives, our children’s lives – life itself – is worth more than the pitiful energy we have given them so far.
if we can’t get to this place, this place of necessary coming together, this place that recognizes the shared responsibility we have in honoring what we so often and emptily claim as sacred – life, then i do believe more is at risk than any rights or privileges. i do believe we are at risk of not only losing the very heart and soul of this country, but what is the unique manifestation of the divine that is us – our humanity.
life will go on, of course. it always goes on.
but if we fail to rise to this challenge, to open our wounded hearts, to stand in the face of violence, to look into the eyes of fear –
life very well may look to another vessel with which it can share love, seeing no vacancy in hearts that already have a love affair with violence.
and then we will finally know what it is to be in hell, because we will have chosen to hold it in our closed hearts.
beautiful friends ~
sometimes there are no quick fixes or bandages to salve wounds that have etched their presence into our lives with such striking suddenness.
sometimes all we can do is sit, remember to breathe, and coax the courage to keep our hearts open.
sometimes it is all we can do to pull forth from the ground below and the sky above, with Life itself as our witness, that most valiant and sacred of mantras ~
I won’t stop loving. I won’t stop loving. I won’t stop loving.
April 15, 2013
spent the evening watching 9/11 footage as i do every year on this day.
i find it incredible that 11 years later, the emotions that rise up from my chest – that turn my stomach – that tighten in my throat, can still be so present. and although the emotions of sadness and anger manifest their presence once again, i do not watch to give them life anew. i watch to remind myself. to remind myself that suffering not grieved, that anger not transformed, that bitterness unchecked – left in its darkened cave, grows into hate. and that hate when held onto, when taught and modeled, finds life in hopeless – desperate hearts. possibly giving birth for generations, slowly separating us from our humanity, from what is divine.
i also watch to remind myself of what it looks like to see such bravery in the face of horrific disaster and tragedy, to watch courage and compassion manifest as it did that day in the police and fire fighters, in doctors and nurses, in coworkers and friends. i watch to remind myself how a nation who can get lost in division, can all at once be unified in their grief, their desire to hold life, and in their humanity.
i know in my heart we are given all we need to heal, all we need to reconcile and restore. the solution is us. our hearts, our minds, our light, our love – together. in moments we see this and in the long arc of history i believe its thread is clear.
but there are dark moments, periods of time that can shake the heart, and i am left to wonder – have we learned?
wishing all of you, dear friends – relief from your suffering, happiness and peace.
September 11, 2012
“Thinking about Joshu: One of the most beloved masters in early China was Joshu, admired for his economy and spirit. Zen Master Joshu was born in 778 CE and became a monk when he was 18 years of age. He stayed with his teacher Nansen for 40 years. When Nansen died, Joshu grieved for some years, and then, at the age of 60, after his grief had worn through, he said “I think I’m going to wander around for a while.” He spent the next 20 years traveling about China, visiting various Zen teachers and letting them check his mind. He was checking their minds too.
At the age of 80 he thought, “It’s time to settle down now,” and he became the head of a small temple, where students would come and go, and he would have quiet, pointed interactions with those who met him. It was said that a kind of light shown around his mouth, he was so direct, purified, simple, non-greedy about his own mind and his own practice. Modest and having submitted for so long, he became who he really was. He died at the age of 120, and thus he had the advantage, once he had settled down at the age of 80, to have another 40 years of discovery, enjoying peculiar and unmediated interactions with those who found their way to his modest temple.”
~ Roshi Joan Halifax
i don’t know that it is important to believe the specifics of this story, as some have questioned.
rather, the power for me is in the message of the story, the simplicity of purpose, the humility of spirit. i really connected with these.
i am always impressed by the amount of grief these stories expose of students when their masters/teachers pass. so beautiful, so human and sacred. the path of awakening is not something that helps us escape these heavy things in life, but the practice gives us the grounding to sit, to walk, and to live with it…and what we find is that we have this heart with an incredible capacity to hold Life.
thank you for sharing, Roshi Joan.