empathy, our greatest weapon…

What we are seeing is a grasping, blinding, lust for power and wealth, rather than a love for life.

We see it in how it affects human life, and all life really, including the life of this planet.

We are out of balance.

I think if we each take a step back, a step out of our identifications, a step away from our screens, and just sit for a moment. Just sit and breathe. Just sit as a simple human being with all that makes us so – one quality stands out, our capacity to have empathy.

That’s what is presently lacking: empathy. Without it, we lose our humanity. And I do believe we are dancing dangerously on the brink, led by a pied piper or team of pied pipers, toward increased suffering and loss. It is already happening.

There is a wonderful Rumi quote, “Sit, be still, and listen, because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.” The drink of those currently in power is narcissism paired with a world view that in its exclusion of the “other” denies a basic universal truth, we are not separate.

A world view that says we are somehow separate from everyone else is a lie. Plain and simple. What is being fed to us is a lie. It goes against nature, life, and the better part of our humanity. It puts profit over the health and lives of others. It excludes and fears anything it deems different. It proposes a false security through walls, aggressive laws and violence.

Put yourself or a family member in the place of the person who suffers health issues while on a fixed or limited income. Put yourself or someone you love in the place of the undocumented person now being separated from their children or spouse, having to leave the home they’ve known for decades. Put yourself or a friend in the place of a person who is seen as evil based on their religion, because fanatics have committed atrocities under its name. Put yourself in the place of someone who is seen as an abomination, because of who they love, yet they continue to love. Put yourself in the place of someone who lost their job, who feels like they are drowning in life and unable to provide for their family.

This is called empathy. And it is our greatest weapon against the tyranny of authoritarianism. Empathy aligns us with each other, it aligns us with life. Empathy opens our heart and draws out our other great weapon – compassion. Compassion is a boundless and fierce power.

This current trial is beyond political or religious affiliation. It is a human challenge, calling all of us to respond together as one family, one community to defeat the lie of separateness, to pull the walls of this harmful ideology down.



we got this…

Kuan Yin, also known by the names Guan Yin or Kannon is the feminine personification of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion who hears and answers the cries of the world.
inspired by a well known statue, in this image she sits calm and steady, ready to unleash her fierce compassion. she’s saying, “I got this.”
may we all be so inspired on this International Women’s Day and everyday to join in fierce compassion, stating with steady resolve, “We got this.”

#InternationalWomensDay #internationalwomensday2017 #MeditateAndResist #resist #FierceCompassion #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins #Bodhisattva #Avalokitesvara #KuanYin #compassion #Buddhism #JMWart

stay with it…

our tendency, our pattern is to avoid our heartbreak, our fear, our discomfort at all costs.
a relationship ends, a job is lost, a loved one becomes ill, the world is spinning out of control and we react.  sometimes we grasp at the next person or possible relationship, at every little thing that promises good health.  sometimes we attack aggressively to protect ourselves. and sometimes we avoid at all costs, “ignorance is bliss.”

these ways of reacting to what makes us feel uncomfortable in life – grasping, aggression, ignorance (also sometimes called greed, hatred, and delusion) are what we call in Buddhism, the Three Poisons.  they perpetuate suffering – the very thing we are desperately trying to avoid in our patterns of reactions.  the antidote to these poisons is a broken heart, an open heart.  and the only way to give our hearts a shot at being open and opening wider – building its capacity to be with life – is to allow our hearts to break.

ugh, right?  who wants to do that?  not most of us, which is why we can look around and see ourselves and other hurt people jumping from one relationship to another, see ourselves and other hurt people trying a new fad diet or health claim one after another, see ourselves and other hurt people aggressively attacking “friends” on social media who have opposing views, or even simply wanting social media to return to cat memes and name games, because it has gotten too “political.”

but the truth is, our discomfort will not go away with the next person in our bed, or the loss of a certain number of pounds, or getting that last word in, or turning off the tv/computer and pretending the world isn’t burning.  none of these will make a difference if we can’t sit still and allow our discomfort to break open our heart, to open it, to teach us.  a broken heart, an open heart allows our love to be free.

Pema Chödrön wrote a book titled, “The Wisdom of No Escape.”  I love this little phrase.  it is counter intuitive to our habitual pattern of running away, running through, and going to war with ourselves and others.

can we see that we need not go to war?  that we are inherently strong enough, courageous enough to not only be with our pain, but to allow our love to heal it?

we must learn to sit with ourselves and our discomfort, gently and compassionately allowing our hearts to break open and our love to flow, if we want to be free.  this is our life calling us to awaken.

stay with it…


renunciation, for benefit…

after nearly 12 years of being vegetarian, this year for Lent, moved and inspired by my Buddhist practice and a desire to lessen aggression and increase compassion within myself I am giving up dairy to lean more into being vegan.
renunciation is a sacrifice, but it can be a sacrifice for benefit – for oneself and for those around us, even extending from our own little microcosm out into the macrocosm of life including animals.


All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death. All love life.

See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?

He who seeks happiness
by hurting those who seek happiness
will never find happiness.

~ from the Dhammapada (translated by Thomas Byrom)

Those who wish
to protect themselves and others
swiftly should practice the great secret:
exchanging oneself for others.

~ Shantideva

Every living thing,
without exception,
is a song
written in the heart
of the Beloved.


your light gives life, just shine…

We cannot force awakening in others.
We can only practice to awaken ourselves and in our practice make ourselves available to benefit others though the benefits of our practice.
In this way, we are planting seeds of loving kindness, compassion, open heartedness, and wisdom. Then when the right conditions arise, these seeds are nourished and grow manifesting awakening in others as well.
Just shine your light. And your light, like the sun, will give life.
Wishing everyone all that is beneficial and all that brings happiness on this Tibetan New Year, Losar.
Tashi Delek!


because love calls us to…


Despite what this Administration says, the welfare and safety of our transgender youth is not a States’ Rights issue.

It is a Human Rights issue.  Plain and simple.

Creating and supporting an environment that is safe and affirming for all of our youth, including and especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable is in the best interest of all of us as a society and only asks that we open our hearts.  It does not require our agreement, or even our full understanding.  All it asks of us is our empathy and compassion.

If you find yourself resistant to this, there is a wonderful Buddhist meditation practice called Metta, or Lovingkindness meditation.  It is a training in opening the heart.

In Metta, we begin with offering to ourselves, using the phrases:
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be free from suffering

Then we offer to others, using the phrases:
May you be happy
May you be safe
May you be free from suffering

Offering to a loved one, then to a benefactor.  Offering to someone we may be aware of, but do not really know.  Then to someone with whom we may be in disagreement or find we have some negative feelings toward.  Then we offer to all beings, all of life.

We can surely also offer this practice to those whom we may not understand, for those who are different from us, who hold different views, who have a life experience different from ours.

Compassion is love offered and put into action out of the tenderness and softness of our hearts.  It is not something we give to only those we agree with or for whom we think merit its benefits.  It is a gift we give, simply because it is there and it is needed.  It benefits the giver as well as the recipient.

Stand with our youth, stand with our transgender family, because love calls us to do so.



an open heart…

our practice is a practice of compassion, of opening the heart.it is a practice of allowance, allowing our heart to break open and reveal the vulnerability and tenderness that is our power and strength.

it is a practice of being with life through laughter and tears alike.

I am, because we are…

Interdependence is a cornerstone of Buddhism.  The idea that “I” only exist, because of the dependent co-arising of the elements that make “me” exist.  My human body has about 30 trillion human cells in it and about 40 trillion non-human microbes in it.  I am more “not” human, than human!  These cells and microbes aren’t “me.”  However, I wouldn’t be “me” if they didn’t exist and make up this body that I have identified as “me.”

Likewise, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my parents, or their parents, or their parents’ parents, on back.  I wouldn’t have my current employment if it wasn’t for the person who hired me, or if the person that hired them hadn’t hired them.  My food that I generally do not take enough time to appreciate would not sit before me, if it weren’t for the grocery store, the farmers, or the sun and the rain.  So, my health and welfare are in many ways contingent on elements and people outside myself, that I depend on.

Beyond these every day situational examples of interdependence, there are the very foundational elements of who we are – elements!  As Neil deGrasse Tyson has been often quoted as saying, we are related to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the Universe atomically.  We simply share more in common with who we are on a fundamental level, than not.

One doesn’t have to be a Buddhist or a scientist to see this as true.  A Muslim, a Jew, or a Christian can draw the same conclusion based on their belief that all life has come forth from God (or Yahweh, or Allah).  If my life has come forth from God and your life has come forth from God – then are we not basically the same at our core, the source of our lives coming from the Source of all life?

In this perspective it seems insane if not just ridiculous to fabricate more ways to divide us from others.  But the fabrication of division, through manipulation, drawing upon peoples’ fears, anger, and ignorance is what we are currently resisting in the form of bans and walls.

We are resisting such ideology, because it is harmful.  We are also resisting such ideology, because it is simply not true.  It is not authentic to the reality of life.  The reality that all of our lives are interdependent.  The reality that I am, because we are.