Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

August 31, 2009

Climbing a cliffSome years ago, two friends took me rock-climbing in Colorado. I’d only ever climbed with ropes once before, and that had been many years earlier, so really I was a complete beginner. And nervous.

I found myself suspended half-way up a cliff, in a state of anxiety, with my friends shouting encouragement from below. My breathing was tight, my heart was pounding, and my limbs felt weak and shaky, but I didn’t have time to think much about that. I was holding on to a narrow ledge that ran horizontally across the rock face — really it was more like a crease. The toes of my climbing shoes were precariously holding on to a couple … Read more »

Vajrapani: Breaking free

July 29, 2008

VajrapaniWrathful Vajrapani, the bold blue Buddha of energy, is helping Vajradevi to transform her demons.

A few years ago I was sitting in a London office one winter day as the rain came down in slick sheets. Lightning flashed across the low sky and, as the thunder suddenly crescendoed, a half-dozen car alarms shrieked out to the surprise of pedestrians. No-one had touched the vehicles. The unseen power of the thunder had set the alarms off. It seemed a mischievous reminder from nature of the power at her disposal.

It also brought to my mind Wrathful Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of energy or power. This is the figure I took on as a focus of my … Read more »

Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

July 24, 2008

Anais NinI sometimes think that my life has proceeded by way of a series of breakdowns and reconstructions. Such episodes haven’t exactly been frequent in my life, but they have represented important turning points. There have been three times I can recall where I’ve hit emotional bottom, learned something important about myself, and found a release that led to significant growth taking place.

In each case there had been a long period of holding on to some pattern that had been causing me pain (usually unacknowledged). I’d been a tightly-closed bud. This was followed by a catalyzing event (in each case it involved being on retreat) in which I became fully aware of the pain I’d … Read more »

The truth of not suffering: The Buddha’s teachings on happiness

July 24, 2008

balloonsThe Buddha’s teaching on suffering does not say that we have to accept all of our unhappy circumstances. For those living the lay life, his advice was to look after ourselves and seek abundant happiness.

Let’s say you’re in a job or a relationship that isn’t really working for you, but it’s not so horrible that you have to flee. It’s a comfortable routine and provides security, and you can name a whole bunch of reasons why it’s a perfectly good place to stay. But you’re dissatisfied. Feeling a bit stuck. Like you’re not going anywhere. Oh well, I hear you say. Life is suffering, right? We have to learn to accept what is.

Yes, … Read more »