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…

~j
03.05.17

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!
~j

02.27.17

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.

~j
02.20.17

 

our power…

our power is love. inexhaustible. found in our open hearts. vulnerable, tender, brave, and strong beyond measure.no one can take this away. it is the weapon of the oppressed, that eventually defeats the oppressor, who in ignorance underestimates its power. it is the long arc. ~j

#MeditateAndResist #resist #WakeUp #StayOpen #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins #NoMuslimBan #NoBanNoWall 

gentleness…

it may not start at the top, but it can begin at the bottom with each of us.~j
#MeditateAndResist #resist #WakeUp #StayOpen #TheLongArc #PlantingSeeds #LoveWins #NoMuslimBan #NoBanNoWall

self-care and care for others in dark times…

jmw-meditating

 

Recently I wrote that the world is in need of heroes, spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas.

Given the state of things, especially in recent weeks, it appears that WE must be the heroes, the spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas that we seek and that the world needs.  We cannot wait, as most of us have done in the past, for spiritual or secular leaders to rise up and rally, to galvanize and gather on our behalf.

This is a good thing!  It is incredibly inspirational to see hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of people around the globe standing up for the oppressed, the marginalize, and the most vulnerable – speaking truth to power with words and actions alike.

There has been a call.  Have you felt it?  The misdeeds and harmful actions of those in power has brought forth, for many, an almost instinctual – from the bones – reaction to resist and work towards an alternative.  And it does seem that what we have perhaps taken for granted in the past, cannot be taken for granted any more, but must be worked for and served.

People are in need and suffering.  We can offer ourselves – our talents, our skills, our words, our hands and feet, and our hearts – in service to relieving and healing that suffering.  This is what many Buddhists participate in, the Bodhisattva Vow, “Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.”  Of course we cannot save anyone, much less everyone, but within this vow is the recognition of self-lessness, of interdependence – the idea that I am because you are and what happens to you also affects me.  So, meditate on the softness of our heart, the tenderness that rises up when we think of a loved one, of someone dear.  We then extend this good will that has arisen toward others, knowing that they are someone’s loved one and they too are dear to someone.

None of us escape this journey unscathed by pain and suffering.  We all will experience illness, aging, loss, and eventually that great mystery that is death.  Isn’t this enough to draw out empathy and find common ground and open our hearts?  Our love and care when put into action is compassion…and in the current state of things we need some FIERCE compassion.  If we want our cause to be successful, we cannot be consistently motivated by anger.  We will burn out and burn everything else with us.  Our motivation MUST come from a place of love and fierce compassion working towards the noble causes of justice and peace.

There has been a lot of fierce compassion lately.  I saw it at the Women’s March and I’ve seen it in subsequent marches and peaceful protests as people stand, walk, and speak in the footsteps and voices of heroes, spiritual warriors, and bodhisattvas.

This can be and has been EXHAUSTING.  And when we are exhausted and diminished, we can get angry, irritable and then our words and actions may move from being beneficial to harmful.  Ends do not justify means.  The means are the end.  We must be what we seek.

So, how can we put that fierce compassion into action, if we are diminished, if we are exhausted?

When we take a bodhisattva vow, or make any commitment to serve others, to work towards an end to suffering, we must also include ourselves.  Self-care so that we can care for others.  This is what makes this a spiritual act.  Self-care only, is simply self-help.  This can be beneficial and good, but I am talking about something different here.  Self-care so that one can also care for others is a spiritual practice (even if you are agnostic, humanist, or atheist – no need to belong to a specific religion or belief system).  We practice as a benefit to ourselves and others, to reduce suffering in the world – even for those who are supposed “enemies” who may be on the opposite side of issues, even seeking our harm to support their desire to be “safe.”  Of course, none of us are safe if any community or group of people are scapegoated as “other.”  To paraphrase a quote by Diana Winston, “…there is a big difference between loving our enemies (those who’d harm us or others) and letting them get away with their wrongdoing (harmful actions).”  [additions mine ~j]

As a Buddhist (though one does NOT need to be Buddhist), as a meditator for the past 9 years, and as a meditation instructor I suggest and stand behind (…or is it sit behind) a regular meditation practice, as a beneficial support to self-care, so that one can also care for others.

A friend of mine recently asked me to share information about meditation practice with others in a post, because she has seen what many of us have seen – people exhausted and diminished by a deluge of negativity and overwhelming changes from those in power, pulling the ground out from under us.  She felt it would be a benefit and I do as well.

A note regarding meditation practice.  It isn’t a quick fix.  This may be disappointing, but the goal isn’t to attain some blissful or peaceful state (but what’s wrong with that?!).  When we practice meditation, we are practicing to be present in this moment – our mind and body together in one place – no matter the situation or what we are feeling.  In this way, with consistent practice, our hearts begin to naturally open and build a capacity to be with life as it is, without immediately reacting to it.  We are making space and in that space, we have the ability to choose our words and actions thereby benefitting the world, rather than adding to its suffering.  A short period of sitting every day is more beneficial than a long period of sitting once a week.  Don’t be discouraged.  After 9 years of meditating, I have noticed growth in my capacity to be with life and have seen my heart open more and more.  I wouldn’t have sought out instruction to be a teacher, if this weren’t the case.  And it is humbling, because other than committing to sitting and breathing, I have done nothing else to make this happen.  This is a nod to our true nature, which I believe is essentially good, that when we simply sit and allow the noise to fall away, to arise and then pass, the goodness of our hearts eventually comes forth.

I have recorded a brief 10-minute guided meditation as an introduction and instruction for you.

If you are new to meditation, I would also like to suggest my teacher’s book:  Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation by Susan Piver.

start-here-now

You may also want to connect with her teaching and instruction online at The Open Heart Project.

If you are interested in further exploration of the intersection of contemplative practice and social action/service, I’d also like to suggest The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path by Ethan Nichtern, who is also a teacher I admire and follow.  The last few chapters explore this more deeply.

the-road-home

Ethan has also written a wonderful 7-Point Practice Plan for Engaged Mindfulness to assist in self-care as we care for others in this difficult time.

Wishing you all well as we journey together.

May all beings be happy and at ease.
May all beings be free from suffering.

 

~ j

01.30.17

 

 

 

speak no “post-truth”…


 

The spreading and celebration of incoherency, where all facts and truths are subjective and subject to what serves one’s own agenda from which only oneself and one’s insider family and friends benefit, is a degradation of the morals and ethics upon which the foundation of civilized society is built. This incoherency, rather than mutual understanding and acknowledgement based on facts, spreads unease and fear. A society living with unease and fear is in danger of losing itself in what can be a self-fulfilling abyss of distrust and paranoia. This distrust and paranoia can lead to an increase in greed, aggression, violence, and despair. 

 

Though there may be no real thing such as “post-fact” or “post-truth,” the consequences from practicing such charlatanism can be real and harmful, as we are already witnessing.

 

Does this sound an alarm? 

 

Good. 

 

Then be an unwavering, inexhaustible advocate for truth. Stand and speak up for what is based on fact and not self-serving vagary, beginning with your own speech, writing, and actions. Hope is born on the words and actions of those who stand on the side of what is authentic and true, who call upon the better quality of all people to answer that call, by example. We need these examples, these bodhisattvas, we need to be the embodiment of the hope we seek and a reflection of what is authentic and true.

 

A “post-fact” and “post-truth” world is a world spinning out of control with no ground beneath it.  The world may continue, but we may not. And if we do, we may no longer recognize who we are or what we have become, having only a fuzzy memory of what it meant to be human. A memory the “post-fact” and “post-truth” gatekeepers will slander, as they label it a myth.

 

But many of us, I hope most of us, will know better and will continue to shed a light of what is factual and true.

 

Stay awake. Stay aware. Bear witness. Speak truth.

 

~j

01.11.17