Life is short. Be kind.

January 25, 2013

Dried BouquetA lot of people I know have experienced loss recently. Loss is particularly hard when your last words to the deceased person were spoken in anger.

I don’t know whether you’ll get married. I don’t know whether you’ll have children or grandchildren. I don’t know if you’ll be kind. But I know you’ll die. Because that’s something we all do. Death is something we often don’t want to think about, even though it’s inescapable and a simple fact of life.

Hence,in the Buddhist teachings, we find reflections such as this:

Those who have come to be,
those who will be:
All will go,
leaving the body behind.
The skillful person,
realizing the loss of all,

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Fully Alive: A Retreat with Pema Chodron On Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

January 14, 2013

fully alivePema Chodron was the first North American born woman to become an ordained Bhikkhuni. She teaches in the Shambhala tradition begun by her mentor and teacher Chogyam Trungpa. Meg Wheatley, who assists her teaching on this retreat, has a Ph.D. from Harvard and has long been interested in system dynamics. She is a prolific author and has traveled to every continent to learn and teach about how human systems function properly or fail. Both women have sound instruction to offer concerning how to navigate beautifully in life — this life that can only be impermanent.

The focus of the retreat is a modern-day Hopi prophecy. Ani Pema indicated that the prophecy was requested from Hopi … Read more »

Six ways of reflecting on impermanence

December 23, 2012

Running out of timeIn the Google Plus Community that I’ve set up for people who have a connection with my work (my classes, my CDs, MP3s, books, Wildmind, etc.) we discuss our practice. It’s turned out to be a very supportive and inspiring community. My own practice has benefitted a lot, and as I put it this morning in a post there, “We’re all each other’s teachers.”

Someone in the community said they’d been reflecting on impermanence, and that led me to write a few words about the various ways that I reflect about impermanence in meditation. Here’s what I wrote:

I reflect on impermanence at different degrees of resolution. Here they are, roughly in order:

  • On the
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Grasping the snake of impermanence by the wrong end

December 18, 2012

Man holding California Kingsnake.The other day I posted a news article about various ideas for replacing the ancient Buddhist statues of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. One of our Facebook commenters had the following to say:

I am so grateful for the Taliban destroying these statues, what an amazing lesson in the impermanent nature of reality. The people who did this are our greatest teachers, firstly for helping us to practice patience with our negative feelings of anger and secondly to show us how attached we can become to impermenant objects.

There’s certainly a traditional teaching in Buddhism of having gratitude toward our enemies for giving us an opportunity to practice patience. This … Read more »

“Stone, Sea and Sand: Poems and Reflections on the Buddha’s Teaching on Impermanence” by Satyadevi

November 10, 2012

Between November 2010 and February 2011, New Zealand, a country of 4 million people, suffered two of the biggest disasters in its history.

The Chilean mining disaster had many of us riveted to our TV screens as miner after miner was brought to safety, having been trapped underground for 69 days. This was not to be the case in New Zealand. After an explosion at the Pike River Mine in New Zealand’s South Island, anxious families, buoyed by the Chilean experience, waited for long days and nights for a breakthrough that might bring their men home. None of the 29 miners and contractors survived.

Only three months later, Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city, was … Read more »

I love you and one day I will die

November 5, 2012

I love you and one day I will die. I can not escape it. Death comes to everyone, including me.

Death is unavoidable; it will come to all of us, today, tomorrow, next month, next year.
Death is unavoidable; even I will die. Even you will die. Everyone we know will die.

Death is unavoidable, you and I may die before our parents. You and I may die before our children. You and I may die before our friends. You and I may die before our loved ones. You and I may die after our loved ones.

Death is unavoidable; this is the only thing we can guarantee in life. During this next year someone … Read more »

Looking for the silver lining of our dysfunction

October 23, 2012
“A mess in process”
One of the indisputable realities about being human is that we all have weaknesses. No one escapes this.

Some of us are able to acknowledge these less attractive aspects without being unduly fazed. Others tend to cultivate strategies to help hide the cracks. Yet others convince themselves that their weaknesses are inherent aberrations, with this view then becoming a rationale for indulging in aberrant behaviour. It is the last of these views that I tend to work with in addiction.

Some of us convince ourselves that we are such a waste of space that really, we should commit ourselves to a life of substance-induced mayhem or simply rid the rest of … Read more »

Tibetan sky burial photographs

September 29, 2012

An astonishing series of photographs of a Tibetan “sky burial,” where a corpse is cut up and fed to vultures, with the remains being pounded into dust, has been viewed almost three quarters of a million times in 24 hours.

The images (view here) are very graphic, but as Justin Whitaker says, “As a poignant reminder of the impermanence of this body, they’re worth viewing.”

According to Wikipedia, in Tibet the practice is known as jhator, which means “giving alms to the birds.”

Sky burial is traditional in Tibet, where the ground is too rock for interment to be practical, and where a lack of wood similarly makes cremation unfeasible for people.

This … Read more »

Embrace fragility

September 19, 2012

The truth of anything is like a mosaic with many tiles, many parts.

One part of the truth of things is that they are robust and enduring, whether it’s El Capitan in Yosemite or the love of a child for her mother and father.

Another part of the truth is that things bruise, tear, erode, disperse, or end – fundamentally, they’re fragile. Speaking of El Capitan, I knew of someone climbing it who had just placed anchors above a long horizontal crack when the sheet of granite he was standing on broke off to fall like a thousand-ton pancake to the valley floor below (he lived, clutching his anchors). Love and other feelings often change … Read more »

We are the miracle

September 3, 2012
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Joyful to have
such a human birth
Difficult to find
Free and well-

Composed by Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. 1974.

It is a miracle that we are born, and that we are still living. Every minute, world wide approximately 267 people are born and 108 people die. Just over 40% of us survive birth, and none of us survive death. Last month I asked you: ‘How are you making the most of your precious birth? I ask you again this month, as it is a reflection we could do daily.

Our human birth
ordinary and extraordinary
Our human birth
joyful and painful
Our human birth

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