Showing posts from 2013

Why I'll Never Compile A Bucket List

Okay, it looks like my previous post was not the final one of 2013 after all…
Happy New Year, everyone! Have you compiled your respective lists of New Year’s resolutions? Yeah, I know, not everyone is a fan of such endeavors. However, to the extent that they help us clarify and actualize the purest of our intentions, then I think they can be a good thing. A bucket list, on the other hand, is something that I’ll never compile. Why not? I am so glad you asked that question! Let me begin with what I find appealing about resolutions.
Resolutions tend to act as guideposts in the back of our minds, subconsciously or unconsciously shaping our outward behavior: toward eating or living more healthfully, for instance, toward acting with greater patience or mindfulness, perhaps, toward spending more time with friends and family or engaged in spiritual practice, etc. Sure, they can veer towards end goals from time to time, such as when we vow to lose ten pounds, or quit smoking, or find a new jo…

The Sublime and the Profane..., Enlightenment and Shit (Part 2 of 2)

Readers of Part 1 might find it interesting as they read on that my unconscious mind was able to construct a far more refined metaphor for practice than the “sitting with a belly full of crap” one that my conscious mind was able to come up with. As you may recall, “sitting with a belly full of crap” refers to the fact that so much of our lives is comprised of situations and circumstances that we would just as soon flush away, if only we could. However, as stated in Part 1: “We can change our mind, we can even change our behavior; but the repercussions of our past mental and physical activity continue until such karma has been exhausted.” And so our practice becomes one of working with and working through our residual negative karma, all the while trying to refrain from creating such negativity anew.
I had a dream one night during sesshin. It began with me flying over a very picturesque city – with many lakes and streams, beautiful buildings and walkways, lush foliage and green spaces…

The Sublime and the Profane..., Enlightenment and Shit (Part 1 of 2)

Siddhartha Gautama, after a long and (up until then) unsatisfying quest for ultimate wisdom, is said to have vowed to remain seated under the bodhi tree until either awakening to the true nature of reality or passing away. In between the time of that vow and the time of his awakening, Siddhartha is said to have been visited by many “demons” – demons that we modern contemplatives might best understand as the darker manifestations of Siddhartha Gautama’s mind. As the days and nights progressed these distractions became more and more intense, culminating, it is said, in the future Buddha facing one final but monumental doubt: What right did he have to such profound wisdom? It is said that Siddhartha Gautama then reached down to touch the earth, and as the morning star rose in the sky he realized enlightenment, he became Buddha – Awakened One. Much can be read into the symbolism of touching the earth, but I’m inclined to view it in terms of Siddhartha Gautama having recognized that his c…

Tripping Through Life

Live each moment as if you've just tripped and you're using your entire being to right yourself. I’ve rekindled my love of trail running this past year. In part because I’m healthy enough to once again veer from the beaten path, but also because trail running is one of the times that I feel most fully alive – when the level of physical exertion sufficiently subdues my overly active brain such that consciousness and space and time are brought into perfect synchrony. Of course, the occasional tumble is something that goes with the territory when running trails – especially if you’re winding your way up and down steep single-track full of roots and rock. Such was the inspiration for the text and visual accompanying this post.

When we trip and lose our balance we instantly commence doing whatever must be done in order to right ourselves. We thrust a foot here and an arm there; we twist our torso and angle our neck in such a way as to precisely change our center of gravity and ke…

The Dance Of Compassion And Gratitude

Compassion and gratitude are well-known fruits of spiritual practice – arising spontaneously as a result of our increasing awareness of the nature of our existence, its fleetingness, and the mystery of life itself. But compassion and gratitude are also like partners in a dance – with awareness of the compassion that has been shown to us inspiring gratitude, and gratitude for the sufficiency that we are blessed with inspiring us to act with greater compassion in the world. At times this dance of compassion and gratitude is engaged in with such grace that it is difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins. At other times, however, toes are stepped on or one of the partners trips and falls.
For example, have you ever been in a situation in which someone wants to show their gratitude to the group by bringing in a box of donuts or something only to find that everyone is either counting their calories or watching their cholesterol or boycotting ABC Donuts for not serving fair…

Tending Horses As The World Warms

At least one thing about reality on which we all can agree (I hope), is that it’s going to be whatever it will be regardless of what we might believe. We can argue all day long about how the world began and why, and what we’re doing here, but the only conclusion that we may ever agree on is that we’re here – period. The next step is to work together to figure out what we’re going to do about it. Perhaps that’s why Buddhist practice still resonates with me after all these years; because day in and day out, throughout all of the joys and sorrows of life, it keeps holding a mirror up to my face and reminding me: you’re here, now what are you going to do about it?
There seems to be a human tendency to get lost in our stories, to build grand cities out of brick-pallets full of concepts mortared together with belief, to invent metaphysical realities that are untestable until such time that we finally pass away – and maybe not even then if it just so happens that the observant soul embodied…

Zombies - The Perfect Other

What is it with this zombie craze, anyway? There’s got to be more to it than just a macabre fascination with images of the rotting and decrepit “undead” shambling after hapless humans or getting messily dispatched by the “good guys”, right? So, does it help us come to grips with the uneasy sense of entitlement we humans have sitting here at the top of the food chain? Does it reflect some vague realization that humankind is self-destructing before our very eyes? Does it amount to a cultural catharsis, comical at times, for what is otherwise a very dark and apocalyptic foreboding? Perhaps, as a reader of my Do Zombies Have Buddha Nature? post suggested, we recognize in those zombies just a little too much of our own entertainment-addled, substance-addled, and meaningless work-addled selves. I suspect that all of these elements and more account for our fascination with zombies. However, as the title of this post suggests, I’d like to focus on one in particular: zombies as the perfect ot…

Do Zombies Have Buddha-Nature?

Okay, I’ve written a Buddhist Christmas post and a Buddhist Easter post…, why not a Buddhist Halloween post? If you think about it, Buddhism and Halloween do seem to go together well. After all, Buddhism – especially Tibetan Buddhism – has its fair share of stories about demons and hell realms and whatnot. And what is the bardo realm if not a veritable haunted house of the mind! Indeed, no matter what we might say to the contrary, any Buddhist who believes in reincarnation is without a doubt motivated, at least in part, by a desire to keep from being reborn in one of the hell realms, or as a hungry ghost perhaps. And those who don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation still seek to refrain from creating hell realms here in the present moment, or being reborn in one in the next. So why not bring our fears of these demons and hell realms out into the open by celebrating them at least one night each year!
I was inspired to write this post after catching parts of a couple of episodes of…