Thursday, June 29, 2017

Via Utne: Free Your Mind: Practice Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana meditation is a widely used relaxation practice that can be done easily by beginners, with great results! 

After years of heavy addiction, Chris Grosso found himself literally on his knees, utterly lost and broken. Grasping for life, he needed to find a new path, one that went beyond conventional religious or spiritual doctrineone free of bullshit. Indie Spiritualist (Beyond Words Publishing, 2014) empowers readers to accept themselves as they are, in all their humanity and imperfect perfection. In this excerpt learn the basics of vipassana meditation, a simple relaxation practice that can be done by anyone and in any setting.

Vipassana Meditation

Besides being asked, “What’s an Indie Spiritualist?” the second most common question I’m typically asked is “What type of meditation do you practice?”

While I personally practice many different types of medita­tion—never feeling like I have to stay within the confines of only one tradition—I typically respond with vipassana, as I’ve found it to be the most universally applicable form of meditation around. Any form of meditation that resonates with you—whether guided, man­tra, movement, and so forth—will definitely be of benefit.

I adore meditation because there are countless ways to meditate, with no particular style being any better than another. It’s all about what resonates with you. You can find many free guided medita­tions online by searching Google or YouTube, as well as by visiting your local library. Most meditation practices are to spirituality what Bob Ross was to painting—very laid back and go with the flow. And while your practice may not provide you with happy little trees, it will over time create a greater sense of peace, clarity, and serenity in your life, and that’s sorta like happy little trees, right?

Through years of drug addiction, I did considerable damage to myself, resulting in heavy bouts of depression and anxiety. For years, I relied on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications to keep me in a somewhat balanced state, but after cultivating a dedicated meditation practice I eventually found myself at a place where, under doctor supervision, I was able to taper off the medication and no longer needed it.

Let me make it perfectly clear, however, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking prescribed medication for conditions like anxiety, depression, and so forth. I recognize that they were very nec­essary in my life at that time, as I was very chemically off-balance. There is nothing unspiritual about taking prescribed medication when needed, because our own mental and emotional well-being must come first before we can truly help others.

Whether we are on medication or not, meditation practices will certainly help us to not only cultivate more calm in our lives, but also to handle things like stress, anxiety, and depression in gentler ways. For the benefit of those who are new to meditation, I’m providing these simple guided instructions for the practice of vipassana.

A Guided Vipassana Meditation

There’s no shortage of “spiritual positions” suggested for meditative practices, but really, as long as you keep your spine straight, without being overly tense or rigid in your posture, you’ll be fine. You can sit with your legs crossed in half or full lotus position, sit upright in a chair with your feet on the ground, or lie down flat on your back (before lying down, however, be mindful of whether or not you’re tired, as it can be easy to fall asleep during meditation).

As far as mudra (hand) positions go, put them wherever feels right to you. You can place them in your lap, palms up, one on top of the other; you can place them palms down on your knees; or fuck it, you can even make those silly circle things with your fingers, which has become the quintessential consumer vision of what we’re supposed to look like while meditating. It really doesn’t matter, though. Whatever feels most comfortable for you is the right position. Once you’ve got the hands figured out, close your eyes.

Next, bring your awareness to your Buddha belly (or chiseled vegan abs), roughly two inches above your navel, along the vertical midline of your body. Remember that this is not an exact science, so just bring your awareness to somewhere in that area, wherever feels right for you. (Note: Bringing attention to the tip of your nose, just inside your nostrils, as you breathe in and out, is also an anchoring point in vipassana. If that feels more natural to you, go with it!)

As you bring your awareness to your belly, you’ll begin to notice that, as you breathe in, your abdomen expands, and as you breathe out it contracts. The movements of expanding and contracting are often referred to as “rising” and “falling,” and are used as anchoring points to focus on during practice.

As your abdomen expands, observe its motion from beginning to end. Then do the same as it contracts. It’s that simple. Your breath, and the rising and falling of your abdomen, happen naturally, with no conscious effort on your part, so as you bring your awareness to the rising and falling motions, they anchor you in the present moment. If you find you’re having difficulty perceiving the rising and falling movements, it may help to place your hand on your stomach to feel them more clearly.

It also helps to recognize that the rising and falling are actually separate movements. There is a moment, after the abdomen has expanded to its fullest, and just before it begins to contract, that it is completely still. Being vigilant in your awareness of this break point in the motion can be extremely helpful in keeping your concentration focused, as it keeps your awareness centered.

Via Daily Dharma: Dignity Is Yours

Because human beings can deliberately choose to follow the dharma, we can consciously awaken. This potential for enlightenment is the source of self-worth and self-respect. Dignity is part of our karmic inheritance.

—Sallie Tisdale, “On Dignity

deadmau5 & Kaskade - I Remember (HQ)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Via Ram Dass

I began to see that my work was purification. It was getting my theme straight, it was lightening up my attachments, getting out of living such a complicated life, simplifying my life, relating to other human beings, so that when I met another person, I found the place in them where we are, and I didn’t get caught and lost in the melodrama of our relationships.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: The Awakened Heart

There’s nothing as impoverished as the deeply unawakened heart; and nothing enriches us more, and brings more life and meaningfulness, than the awakened heart.

—Christina Feldman, “Doing, Being, and the Great In-Between

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Palestra: Budismo e suas Práticas no ocidente / salão nobre da escola minas Museu de Ciência e Técnica da Escola de Minas

The Buddha described his teaching as “going against the stream.” The unflinching light of mindful awareness reveals the extent to which we are tossed along in the stream of past conditioning and habit.

Buda descreveu o seu ensinamento como "indo contra o fluxo". A luz implacável da consciência consciente revela até que ponto somos lançados no fluxo dos condicionamentos e hábitos passados.

O que é uma Sangha? Uma Sangha é uma comunidade de amigos praticando o Dharma juntos de forma a fazer acontecer e manter a consciência. A essência da Sangha é consciência, entendimento, aceitação, harmonia e amor. Quando våocê não vê isto em uma comunidade, não é uma verdadeira Sangha e você deveria ter a coragem de dizer. Mas quando você encontra esses elementos presentes em uma comunidade, sabe que tem a felicidade e a sorte de estar em uma Sangha real.

Last night the Cambridge City Council passed a resolution honoring the Bicentenary of the birth of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Here is the text and a picture of the Council.

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing and suit

Last night the Cambridge City Council passed a resolution honoring the Bicentenary of the birth of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Here is the text and a picture of the Council.

WHEREAS: October 21-22, 2017 marks the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh called for fellowship and collaboration among the followers of all religions, while religious hatred and fanaticism continue to fuel violence, tyranny, and terrorism; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh affirmed the equality of women and men, while the oppression of women still holds back the progress of so many societies; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh taught that humanity is one family and called for the elimination of racism and racial prejudice, while racism remains a persistent evil; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh declared that universal education is required for societies to succeed, while universal access to education is still unattained; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh called for limits on the extremes of poverty and wealth, while billions still live in destitution and a large portion of the world’s wealth is owned by a few elites; and

WHEREAS: Bahá’u’lláh urged the leaders of the world to abandon their nationalistic rivalries and create a system of collective security, while their failure to do this has caused two world wars, multiple other conflicts, and a massive global arms trade; and

WHEREAS: The wide gap between these ideals and the state of the world calls for people of all faiths and no faith to rise above narrow partisanship and work together for human understanding and peace; now therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge, in recognition of the significance of this bicentenary, urges all citizens to work for the realization of the principles of peace, justice, and human solidarity promoted by Bahá’u’lláh.

Via Baha’i Story Project: A Baha’i Parent’s Epiphany Story Entry

(An unpublished essay written by a mom, in hopes that our family's experience will be of interest to other Baha'i families with a gay child, in supporting him or her in love and unity:)

May 30, 2012. It was an ordinary day in an ordinary place, when my cell phone rang in the K-Mart parking lot. It was always a pleasure to hear from our 28-year-old son, though on this occasion it was not clear as to what was on his mind. I asked the usual “mom” question to draw him out: “How’s your social life?” (The predictable answer was that he was “talking to a girl,” but that she was not his “type.”)

Today, however, he replied in a voice heavy with resignation: “That’s a story for another day . . . .” 

For some strange reason, I gently dared to ask: “Alex, are you . . . gay? In the uncomfortable, prolonged silence which followed, I steeled myself for the unexpected reply: “Yes,” he said in a breaking voice. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” Though my world had just experienced a seismic event, nevertheless my heart immediately went out to our brave, youngest child—ever truthful, even when it was the hardest thing he had ever had to say.

During the remainder of that phone call, I learned everything I did not know about what it meant to be gay, as he patiently answered my many questions. My mental adjustment was almost instantaneous: our beloved son was now our beloved gay son. My emotional adjustment was just beginning.

Over the coming days, I searched my cerebral cortex for subtle clues that would point to homosexuality. Certainly our son was the picture of masculinity. But . . . yes—there was Alex’s lukewarm interest in an internet dating site to which my husband, with the best of intentions, had unwittingly subscribed on his behalf. And yes, there was the hint that most girls weren’t his type. Yes, our son would often insist, enigmatically, that he wasn’t “as good” as I thought he was. . . . And yes, there was Alex’s one gay friend to whom I’d been introduced; that would be Chris—now known to be the love of his life.

It was a revelation, that day in May, that already he and Chris had made sensible plans for a future together. Already they had become legal domestic partners, and Chris’s house would soon be their shared home. . . . The following summer, after the passing in November 2012 of a State referendum permitting same-sex marriage, they would be legally married in a moving and sanctified ceremony. Leave it to Alex to do it with grace and class, and make us proud.

My husband, too, searched for missed clues as to his son’s “natural nature,” and brought to mind a branch on his family tree consisting of aunts, uncles, and cousins who had never married—as was the case with his own bachelor brother. Dad has become a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage in his own circles. To Alex, he cheerfully rationalized that the new state of affairs was “Plan B.”

That our own religion (Baha’i) condemned the very idea of Alex and Chris’s relationship was a bitter pill to swallow. My therapy was to take up the violin. The violin sang sweet midnight songs to soothe my conflicted soul. It intoned simple harmonies to distract from the dissonant clashing of faith and reason, of immutable dogma and evident truth. It wept for all gay youth rejected and disowned for coming out; for those who were forced to live a lie; and for the more devout among them who contemplated in lonely distress the cruel fates which awaited “sinners” with wayward inclinations. 

Ultimately, I had to choose between allegiance to God’s Will as interpreted by my faith (which requires celibacy on the part of homosexual members)— and supporting the love of two guys who intended to become family. Love won. In the interest of personal integrity, I had no choice but to formally withdraw from the faith to which I had given about 37 years of my life.

Had our son continued to bear his burden of guilt in silence, this family’s story, like others, could have ended badly. Alex’s coming out was the demarcation between darkness and light, for himself and for those whose lives he has touched. As for me, this being my story, his painful revelation in May was the pivotal moment when latent homophobia, bred of ignorance and holy writ, was replaced by compassion and understanding. My epiphany on May 30, 2012 was a blessing. I was blind—but in a dizzying, transformative, lightning flash, I saw.

Read the original and more here

Via Daily Dharma: Stop Feeding the Pain Pattern

When we meditate, we are training the mind to stop feeding a pain pattern.

—Ruth King, “Soothing the Hot Coals of Rage

Monday, June 26, 2017

Via The NewYorker: Kids Attend Drag Queen Story Hour

A new reading series at the Brooklyn Public Library introduces elements of gender bending and camp to little ones. 

On a recent Saturday morning, about two dozen small children and their parents gathered in the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library for a new reading series. There were pregnant women with tattoos, breast-feeding moms, and a little girl in pink ballerina gear climbing on the laps of her two dads. Many of the kids, who ranged in age from newborn to five years old, wore tiny T-shirts showcasing their parents’ favorite bands (Nirvana, David Bowie) or political views (one read, “The Future Is Female”).

The event was hosted by Michelle Tea, a writer from Los Angeles, who started attending library story hours after becoming a mom. “Story time rises or falls on the charisma of the storyteller,” she said. “Some seemed to have a personality disorder or didn’t even like children.” She’d brought her partner, Dashiell Lippman, and their two-year-old son, Atticus, who had a haircut that resembled David Beckham’s. “He is pretty butch—we call him Fratticus,” Tea said. “I’m always pushing a tutu on him, but he’s, like, ‘No.’ ”

Tea’s solution, called Drag Queen Story Hour, introduces elements of gender bending and camp. “I have long thought that drag queens need to be the performers at children’s parties, rather than magicians or clowns,” she said. “Drag has become more mainstream. Kids might have seen one on a billboard or on TV.”

Rachel Aimee was at the library because she had seen a Facebook post about the series. “I work at the Feminist Press and thought, Maybe we could present it,” she said. “The thing that first struck me was it’s all about dressing up and being pretty without the baggage of gender coding. As a parent, I’ve been looking for something like that.”

“Yeah, it’s just fun and glitter,” said Tea, who was wearing animal-print palazzo pants and had a red heart tattoo on each of her fingers.

Having a six-year-old daughter has made Aimee question some of her feminist beliefs. “She got really into watching ‘Barbie: Life in the Dream House,’ ” Aimee said. “How could I tell her not to watch it? It has a thousand girls and only, like, two boys in it. I would be teaching her that shows about girls are bad.”

At eleven o’clock, Tea made her way to the front of the room. “Do you all know what a drag queen is?” she asked the children. “Drag queens are amazing. They get to do fun things like dance and sing and travel and play dress-up with their drag-queen friends. And they’re all feminists.” The parents chuckled politely.

The drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess came out, wearing a white sequinned tunic dress and matching heels, bright-pink tights, and a curly auburn wig. (She has performed at Bushwig, a drag festival, and at SFMOMA.) She declined to give her birth name but said that she is a graduate student in media studies at N.Y.U. She put on black owlish reading glasses, sat on a folding chair, and addressed her audience: “Can everyone say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a drag queen’?”

The children just stared.

She would be reading from “Tatterhood,” a collection of feminist folktales, which had originally been published by the Feminist Press, in the nineteen-seventies. The title story, from Norway, features a feisty goat-riding heroine who fights off angry trolls with a spoon.


Via Organizing for Action

Organizing for Action

On October 10th, 2015, I married my partner, Stephen. We'd met in Washington, D.C., bonded over our shared Boston background, and traveled all across the U.S. together.

So naturally our wedding was in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Two years earlier, I'd accepted President Obama's invitation to become the Ambassador to Denmark. Stephen and I had gradually settled into our new city. We'd learned of its proud history as the world's first nation to recognize same-sex marriages.

And so we stood at Copenhagen City Hall, the spot of the very first same-sex marriages -- 26 years earlier -- and said our vows. It made it even more special that the U.S. had legalized same-sex marriage nationwide just four months earlier.

In that moment, though, what I felt had nothing to do with politics. It was personal -- the same little moments and feelings that everyone experiences on their wedding day: Love. Friendship. Family. All of the good things. All of the happy words.

To deny anyone the happiness we felt that day is inconceivable. And as I look at the progress we've made, I know how important it is to keep fighting.

Since our wedding day, we've been overwhelmed by the good happening in communities around the country. The people in the LGBTQ community who bravely share their story. The people who listen to them.

The marches.

Our marches have always been more than celebrations. They're how we defend our hard-won advances -- and how we clear a path for the issues that we still need to tackle. As this administration threatens our progress, that's never been more true.

That energy is where my pride comes from. Because if there's one thing that has been true for every single progressive issue in our country, it's that sweeping change -- the kind we look back on and say, "Well, this was inevitable" -- really isn't. It comes from us.

So I say to everyone, both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ: Show up this month. Be loud. Be proud. And don't forget the work we still have to do. Stand with OFA now:

Add your voice



Rufus Gifford
Former United States Ambassador to Denmark

Via Ram Dass

When I go out into the woods, and I look at trees, I say, “Oh, look at that one, oh look at that one, oh how interesting!” I don’t ask why an Elm isn’t an Oak… I just appreciate them for what they are.

Somehow it’s different when I get near humans, I somehow feel that it’s a whole different category, and I move into my judging mode, saying, “If that person was more like that person, things would be better.”

Now I don’t elevate human relationships that much. I see them as just more of the interaction with the phenomenal world, and another person is a set of phenomena manifested, and I see that I'm getting upset because somebody is a certain way, I take that upset and ask, “Why am I upset?” I realize that a part of my upset is because I have a model that I am holding of how the world should be other than the way it is.

I have the choice of either trying to change the world to adhere to my model, or let go of my model to be with the world.

-- Ram Dass --

Via Daily Dharma: The Pure Land Is in This Life

I don’t envision a single thing that, when undeveloped, leads to such great harm as the mind . . . . I don’t envision a single thing that, when developed, leads to such great benefit as the mind.

—The Buddha, “The Single Thing

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: The Pure Land Is in This Life

The Pure Land isn’t like heaven, because it’s not a place that you go to—it’s more a state of mind, and it can be accessed in this life.

—Reverend Patricia Kanaya Usuki, “The Great Compassion

Corruption is Legal in America

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Keep All Views in Check

Views are colorful and interesting and life-enhancing—as long as we know they are views.

—A. J. Bocchino, “Beyond Language


“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can't make them change if they don't want to, just like when they do want to, you can't stop them.” 

― Andy Warhol ―

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Via FB

Via NPR: Pride Events Honor Memory Of Gilbert Baker And His Rainbow Flag

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - June 21, 2017

Miracles and gatherings of Satsang, reading or hanging out with holy books, chemicals, they’re all traps, but they are useful because they keep strengthening your faith. Faith can touch that place inside, which is called the Atman. It’s naive to think that any one route will bring you faster than any other route, other than what is supposed to be your route. In Zen, they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

Your work on yourself starts exactly where you are at this moment. Like, at this moment, if you’re thinking about the future or the past, if you’re planning, if you’re collecting this for later, what about right here? Now. This is what it’s all about. Everything you’ve ever done in your life and all your incarnations are for this moment. This isn’t for that, this is it – this is what it’s about.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: You Need Both Wisdom and Compassion

Both wisdom and compassion shift our sense of identity away from ourselves toward the wider human, biotic, and cosmic community to which we belong. But where wisdom involves a cognitive grasp of this fact, compassion operates viscerally.

—Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, “The Need of the Hour

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Via Outsports: Former Patriots and Chiefs tackle Ryan O’Callaghan comes out as gay

Ryan O’Callaghan’s plan was always to play football and then, when his career was over, kill himself.
Growing up in Redding, Calif., he didn’t see any other option. From a deep red corner of a blue state, the conflicted young man had decided in high school that he would never — could never — live as a gay man. While the 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle didn’t fit any of the gay stereotypes, he decided shortly after coming out to himself in junior high school that he could never let anyone else in on his darkest secret.

Over the years he had heard general comments from friends and family members about gay people. Every utterance of a gay slur or a joke about gay men — and he heard them plenty when he was young — was like a knife to the gut.

"If you’re a gay kid and you hear someone you love say ‘fag,’ it makes you think that in their eyes you’re just a fag too," O’Callaghan told Outsports on a recent visit to Los Angeles for his first-ever Pride celebration. "That got to me a lot."

Growing up in a conservative area light years away from nearby San Francisco, his own views of gay people had been shaped by those off-color comments and the rare image on television showing a gay man he couldn’t relate to. He knew that the people in his world would never accept him being gay, and he could never truly accept it either.

O’Callaghan decided early on that he would hide behind football. The sport would be his "beard," and the jersey on his back would throw off the scent and keep his secret hidden for over a dozen years on a journey that saw him playing college ball at the University of California and in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.

He spent his time in football preparing for his suicide, yet thanks to a small group of people within the Chiefs organization he ultimately found the will to live as the real Ryan O’Callaghan.

Via Daily Dharma: The Ordinary is Sacred

No longer leaning toward one form of life (attachment) and away from another (aversion) allows psychic energy to flow from our imagination into reality and transforms our ordinary existence into the sacred.

—Rodney Smith, “From Thought to Stillness

Monday, June 19, 2017

God's Own Country trailer - in cinemas 1 September

Via Unicornbooty: Google Gives $1 Million Donation to Preserve LGBT History of Stonewall Inn

Google is donating $1 million to preserve an oral history of the 1969 Stonewall riots that were the groundbreaking moment for the LGBT rights movement.

Sen. Chuck Schumer made the announcement on Sunday that, the company’s philanthropy branch, is donating the grant to the LGBT Community Center in New York City to start the project. Schumer says the purpose of the project is to spread the word and educate future generations about the Stonewall riots.

“The purpose is to spread the word about the Stonewall uprising and the progress we have made as well as the distance we have to go,” Schumer said. “This announcement sends an unmistakable message to Washington: that the America we know celebrates and cherishes its diversity; it doesn’t hide from it or fear it.”

Schumer continued: “With this money, they will translate the legacy of Stonewall from a physical landmark into a digital experience, so that the lessons of its history can reach tens of millions of people across the nation, and across the globe.”

The idea for the project came from William Floyd, Google’s out head of external affairs in New York. He believes that unlike some other national monuments, Stonewall commemorates a struggle that continues to evolve.

“This is a living, breathing, active thing,” he said. “It’s not like Mount Rushmore or a physical natural thing of beauty, it’s civil rights. We thought it was really important that we could provide money and technology to capture those voices and help amplify them.”

The project is slated to be completed for the 50th anniversary of the historic riots in 2019.

During his remarks, Schumer also called out President Trump, who has yet to say anything about LGBT Pride Month.

Schumer said, “This sends an unmistakable message to President Trump and Washington that we’re gonna fight to defend Stonewall because at it’s core what happened here at Stonewall was deeply patriotic.”

Via Daily Dharma: We All Depend on Others

We depend through the whole of life on the support of others . . . .Our dependency is not a cause for despair but rather leads to a sense of wonderment and gratitude, which is the moving force of true spirituality.

—David Brazier, “Living Buddhism

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: The Meaning of Dharma

First, one must get to know oneself. Then, having become familiar with oneself, one can live one’s life more deeply. Living one’s life more deeply is the meaning of dharma.

—Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, “Intelligence & Investigation

Via Ram Dass

I’m for the long, long view. Every time things like this happened, Maharajji would say, “It’s perfect. It’s perfect.” Now I know that many of you are feeling repulsed or apoplectic about that statement, but we’ve got to keep our quietness inside. We’ve got to keep our love. Our compassion. We’ve got to keep our wisdom during this time.

In this political scene, I don’t think we all should sit back and say, “It’s just perfect.” But I want to say you should not do social action with frustration and anger, but with love. The fear, the anger, and all those things, that’s the work. Is that inside you? Love it. Those things are thoughts, and those thoughts are not productive. If you identify with your soul, you love those thoughts. And I think it’s hard to do that. The hardness is the work.

- Ram Dass -

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: The Mind's Clouds

The light of the sun is always naturally present. Clouds are just temporary . . . . In the same way, the nature of the mind is naturally present, and the obscurations and the afflictions are just adventitious.

—Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, “On What Is Most Important

Friday, June 16, 2017

Via Enough Passivity / FB:

Via Daily Dharma: What We Project

We will attract the same kinds of people we really are. If we have a mind full of defilements, we will attract that to us. Therefore we have to purify our mental state, because whatever is within we will project out.

—Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, “No Excuses

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Via Ram Dass

“Christ was lost in love.”

– Neem Karoli Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Understanding Difference Will Deepen Practice

A spiritual tradition is neither generic nor universal. To see what makes one’s own tradition uniquely itself is to be disabused of the notion that it is what all sensible, thinking people would arrive at if only they would get enlightened.

—Rita Gross, “Buddhist to Buddhist

Via Daily Dharma: First Comes Hope, Then Action

Hope opens the door to possibility and allows us to envision change, particularly change that we desire. But hope alone will not affect change—that requires movement.

—Andrew Mellen, “UnStuff Your Life

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Via Pinter...

Via Daily Dharma: Practicing Meditation as an Art

If we take up meditation as we would any other artistic pursuit, it is unlikely we will have any regrets. Quite the contrary, the practice’s significance will grow and unfold throughout our lives.

—Ken McLeod, “The Progress Question

Monday, June 12, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Going Against the Stream

The Buddha described his teaching as “going against the stream.” The unflinching light of mindful awareness reveals the extent to which we are tossed along in the stream of past conditioning and habit.

—Stephen Batchelor, “Foundations of Mindfulness

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Via Ram Dass

I would say that most of us stay locked in our separateness, and we are very frightened of coming out of it. We feel very vulnerable. In truth, you are not vulnerable at all… You just think you are vulnerable. Who you think you are is vulnerable; who you are is not. This is the truth of it. That’s what Christ was saying over and over again, but nobody seemed to want to hear him. It’s very hard to open your heart when you are not vulnerable, but your experience says that you are.

When you are in the presence of unconditional love, that’s the optimum environment for your heart to open, because you feel safe. You realize nobody wants anything from you. The minute that heart opens, you are once again letting in the flow, and that flow is where you experience God.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Simplifying a Complicated Life

If we can allow some space within our awareness and rest there, we can respect our troubling thoughts and emotions, allow them to come, and let them go. Our lives may be complicated on the outside, but we remain simple, easy, and open on the inside.

—Tsoknyi Rinpoche, “Allow for Space

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Lifting Others Up

Equality is about giving up the constant desire to lift yourself above others so that you appear superior to them. Awakening is about lifting everybody up together with you.

—Dawa Tarchin Phillips, “What To Do When You Don't Know What's Next

Friday, June 9, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: An Invitation to Presence

The invitation to open to our experience—whatever it is from moment to moment—is always there, no matter how many times we need to rediscover it.

—Aura Glaser, “Into the Demon's Mouth

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: Tune In to What Matters Most

Whatever you most care about, let this tenderness of heart energize your meditation. The sincerity of your longing will carry you home.

—Tara Brach, “Finding True Refuge

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Via Ram Dass

Love doesn’t know boundaries. The mind creates the boundary of separation between me and you. The heart just keeps embracing and opening out, so that things that open your heart open you out into the universe and allow you to experience preciousness, the grace, the sweetness, and the thick interconnectedness of it all.

It’s even more than interconnected. It’s all one thing, and it just keeps changing its flow and patterns, and you’re just a part of it.

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Where to Find Enlightenment

The path of enlightenment is not the path to enlightenment, a way to get to this so-called awakened state. The path of enlightenment is what is underneath our feet.

—Douglas Penick, “What Are You Meditating For?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Via FB: Senator Kamila Harris -- as shared by Jim Hardwick

"I was speaking to a high school class a few weeks ago and one of the students asked me what we are going to do about a divided America.

"I said I rejected the premise. America isn’t divided. When people wake up at three o’clock in the morning, often in a cold sweat, they are never thinking about life through the lens of being a Democrat or a Republican. The vast majority of folks are thinking about their personal health, the health of their children, the health of their parents, can they get a job, can they keep a job, can they pay the bills by the end of the month, can they retire with dignity?

"The point is that the vast majority of people have so much more in common than what separates us. 

The way we come out of this political nightmare is to reject the false premise that we are a divided country.

"And that means we have to acknowledge what unites us: the universal truths and the universal values that define us. It means we have to listen to one another. It’s why, for example, about once a month I’ve been asking supporters like you to take our issues survey—it’s because I want to know how you’re feeling right now. Not through the lens of partisan politics, but through your eyes, your hopes, and your fears.

"The problem with Washington is that too many people have accepted the false premise that there are core party issues, not issues that are important to those we are supposed to protect and empower.

"I’m a realist, but I’m also an optimist. I believe we can listen and push past the cliche in Washington to get things done that will help people.

"That means we have to be ready to both listen to one another and to fight for the values and the concerns that keep all of us up at night."

Via Daily Dharma: Why Awareness Matters

With awareness, there is space—allowing us to interrupt habitual response patterns and bring intention to our responses, choosing to form a different association. In time, we can begin to carve a new path into the riverbank.

—Wendy Hasenkamp, “Brain Karma

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Via Daily Dharma: On Questioning and Faith

When one is analyzing and studying, it is good to ask questions and to have doubts . . . . Analysis produces a faith that is certain.

—Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, “The Path of Faith and the Path of Reasoning

Via Ram Dass

The only thing that ever dies is the model you have in your mind of who you think you are. That’s what dies. 

- Ram Dass -

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Via Lion's Roar: What is the Buddhist view on sexuality?

The Buddhist flag (right) debuted in Sri Lanka in 1855 and was adopted internationally in 1952. The rainbow pride flag, designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become a symbol of LGBTIQ hope and progress worldwide.
Last week, Taiwan became the first — and only — predominantly Buddhist country to rule in favor of gay marriage. Despite Buddhism’s traditionally conservative roots, in the West, we usually think of it as an LGBTQ-positive spirituality. Western Buddhist teachers have encouraged an understanding of the Buddha’s teachings that helps us “heal, find our true selves, and free ourselves from roles and ideals that do not fit our real nature,” as Roshi Enkyo Pat O’Hara has written.
But, forward-thinking Buddhists are challenged to reconcile their inclusive values with traditionally conservative Buddhist texts that seem to place restrictions where, when, how and with whom one should have sex. How do we respect tradition without compromising our values? As José Ignacio Cabezón explains, when we disagree with Buddhist teachings, we get a chance to initiate illuminating discussions. May this Weekend Reader illuminate your view of sex and sexuality. —Sam Littlefair, associate editor,

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five Mindfulness Trainings are an expression of the Buddha’s traditional five precepts (the core of Buddhist ethics), updated for the modern world. He updates the third precept, “avoid sexual misconduct,” to, simply, “true love.”
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. [...]
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In a historic 1997 meeting with LGBTQ community leaders, the Dalai Lama acknowledged that it’s time to revisit traditional Buddhist texts that prohibit gay sex. Buddhist scholar José Ignacio Cabezón explores the Dalai Lama’s words and the traditional Buddhist views on sexuality. ...

The texts are not the endpoint of reflection, but rather the beginning of it, and the great masters of old are not irrelevant "dead brown men," but living conversation partners whose thought, as reflected in their writings, can help us reconstruct our lives so that they lead to the flourishing of self, of others, and of the communities in which we live. [...]
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When Rev. Kiyonobu Joshin Kuwahara investigated whether LGBTQ members of his community felt unwelcome due to conservative traditional views, he discovered an opportunity to have inspiring conversations. ...

The LGBTQ community has not been openly accepted in Japan—those who stand out are forced to adapt themselves to the norm. I knew there were a number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members in the Buddhist Churches of America. However, I was not sure if they felt accepted within their respective sanghas or if they were comfortable being open about their sexuality in that context. [...]
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