Sunday, August 31, 2008


Femme assise sur un banc

Oh, my. This is wonderful:

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.

~John Lennon

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Joy for others

If you haven't discovered the wonderful website, I really recommend that you explore it. I found the following from a series of essays there on the Four Sublime States of compassion, lovingkindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity:

Sympathetic joy is joy in the basic goodness of all beings, and joy in the fundamental well being of ourselves and others. Sympathetic joy is essentially unconditional...

Regarding conditional joy, it is usually easier for us to experience joy for ourselves than it is to experience it for others. One of the hardest things for many of us to do is to feel happy when something good happens to another person. Judgment and envy, the tendency to compare and demean, and greed and prejudice narrow our world and make sympathetic joy nearly impossible to experience. But learning to feel joy for others can help transform our own suffering and self-centeredness into joy.

-- Joan Halifax

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

"The Unwilling Model"

A truly lovely image

"Happy Dog"

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.

~Milan Kundera

Thursday, August 28, 2008

True abundance

It’s not what we have that constitutes our abundance, but what we appreciate.

-- Jules Petit-Senn

Don't think of abundance as simply meaning material things. Abundance can also refer to the opportunities we've had for learning meditative practice and the increase we experience of compassion and equanimity in our way of viewing both ourselves and each other.

You can read an article developing the principles in the quotation above right here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Break time!

Hello, friends.

I need a little break from blogging today.

Be back tomorrow or Friday!

Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gratitude for triggers

Here's a very difficult teaching to put into practice. But it's very powerful:

Our first line of defense against unhappiness is refusing to believe that we are the victims of the bad intentions of others. The formula is: Do not blame the trigger. The world is full of triggers; in fact, life is designed like that, so that we will truly practice. We can be grateful for all these triggers, as without them we might never recognize our own unfortunate reactions.

Ayya Khema in Visible Here and Now

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Why denial is NOT a good idea

Denial is pushing something out of your awareness. Anything you hide in the basement has a way of burrowing under the house and showing up on the front lawn.

-- Howard Sasportas

Oh, how true, how true. And when that happens, all hell breaks loose.

We need to face our stuff, folks. We really do.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Many people challenge me when I talk about the importance of acceptance. They insist that this means we will go passive and not do anything to make bad situations better. Not so:

Acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction. I am not saying you can't change the world, right wrongs, or replace evil with good. Acceptance is, in fact, the first step to successful action. If you don't fully accept a situation precisely the way it is, you will have difficulty changing it. Moreover, if you don't fully accept the situation, you will never really know if the situation should be changed.

-- Peter McWilliams

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Just being

I like this. I like it a lot:

I admire people who are suited to the contemplative life. They can sit inside themselves like honey in a jar and just be. It's wonderful to have someone like that around, you always feel you can count on them. You can go away and come back, you can change your mind and your hairdo and your politics, and when you get through doing all these upsetting things, you look around and there they are, just the way they were, just being.

-- Elizabeth Janeway

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Hank Weaver sent me the picture above with this comment:
This is my farmer cousin, Dick Baugher, and their cat, Harry Potter. Dick was out in the garden picking tomatoes and Harry Potter walked out and began rubbing against him, wanting his back scratched. Dick told the cat that he couldn’t scratch his back right now, so Harry Potter jumped up on Dick’s back and lay down to wait until he finished picking tomatoes. Dick called his wife Suzie on his cell phone asking her to come out to the garden and to bring the camera. This is the photo that Suzie took.
Aren't cats just wonderful?

Meditation on the rain

Think of it, all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody… what a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges … nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. it will talk as long as it wants, this rain. as long as it talks I am going to listen.

-- Thomas Merton

One year when I was living in South Africa, the rainy season brought us nine whole days of truly non-stop rain. It was a powerful experience, spiritually speaking, for me. It did seem as if the rain was speaking to me and so I think I comprehend what Merton is talking about here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Forgive me if this is a repeat; I'm not sure whether I've shared this one with you or not. But it's very moving, I think. And very important:

Kindness is an inner desire that makes us want to do good things even if we do not get anything in return. It is the joy of our life to do them. When we do good things from this inner desire, there is kindness in everything we think, say, want and do.

- Emmanuel Swedenborg

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Accepting what we cannot change

This is very powerful and thought provoking:

Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it? I do not believe it can be done. The universe is sacred. You cannot improve it. If you try to change it, you will ruin it. If you try to hold it, you will loose it. So sometimes things are ahead and sometimes they are behind; sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily; sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness; sometimes one is up and sometimes down. Therefore the sage avoids extremes, excesses, and complacency.

---Tao Te Ching by Lao Tso

Wednesday life form blogging

Smokey taking a little nap

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Relating to all that is

Probably the most destructive aspect of the conventional western outlook on life is the assumption that we are separate from the rest of reality. This is undoubtedly what causes us to behave with selfishness and greed. Here is another way of looking at how we relate to everything that exists:

The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.

- The Upanishads

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

The spiritual and moral benefits of meditation

Lately there's been so much research on the health benefits of meditation (and the pay off in terms of stress relief) that many meditators and meditation teachers emphasize these physical effects. But it is also - and, I would submit, more importantly - effective in simply making us into better, more decent human beings:

Demystified and divested of religious and cultural trappings, meditation basically means the intentional cultivation of mindful awareness and pure attention - an alert, wakeful presence of mind. This development of awareness eradicates ignorance - about ourselves and others as well as reality. Meditation awakens and frees the mind, and opens the heart, helping us develop inner wisdom, clarity, joy, and compassion, thus bringing spirituality and a larger perspective into every aspect of daily life. Meditation training helps us to concentrate as well as to see and think more clearly. In this way we develop spiritually into wiser, more selfless and caring men and women.

-- Lama Surya Das

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Meditation helps with HIV

My goodness. This is very good news:
The Scientists at the California University, Los Angeles (UCLA) reveal that mindfulness meditation helps slow down progression of HIV.

Meditation does this by relieving stress and bolstering the immune system in HIV positive patients.
The researchers conducted an eight-week mindfulness-based
stress-reduction (MBSR) meditation program and compared it to a single-day MBSR control seminar, using a stressed and ethnically diverse sample of 48 HIV-positive adults in Los Angeles.

They found that participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4T cells, while the control group showed considerable declines. The research team felt that this was a clear indication that mindfulness meditation training can protect against decline in CD4 T cells, a typical hallmark of HIV progression.
You know that if meditiation can slow down the progression of HIV that it can help with ordinary stress!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yes, we are all connected!

I came across a collection of toasts today and here's one that really fits in with the meditative principles!

Here's a health to all those that we love,
Here's a health to all those that love us,
Here's a health to all those that love them that love those
That love them that love those that love us.

-- Old Saying

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

More on "beginner's mind"

Part of embracing beginner's mind is the recognition of how little we really know:

In some fairy tales there is a magic word which has the power to undo the spell that has imprisoned someone and free them. When I was small, I would wait anxiously until the prince or the princess would stumble on the formula, said the healing words that would release them into life. Usually the words were some sort of nonsense like "Shazam." My magic words have turned out to be "I don't know."

Rachel Naomi Remen

Thursday, August 14, 2008

by Mary Oliver

Isn't it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about

spiritual patience? Isn't it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing as though they were the
most fragile of flowers?

Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.

Every morning, so far, I'm alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky–as though

all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.

Thursday life form blogging

Photo by Hank Weaver

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Hello, friends!

No blogging today, I'm afraid. It's been a busy day and I'm kinda wiped out right now. But I'll be back tomorrow!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Beginner's mind

This is a classic quotation. It's been around a long time. And, of course, it is very, very true:

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.

-Shunryu Suzuki

We need to consider ourselves beginners every single day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Let's give in order to give

"Quid pro quo" - "something for something" - "tit for tat" - "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" ... That's the attitude most people take toward generosity. It's so sad because it inevitably breeds resentment:

Giving needs to have the right motivation behind it. if one gives in order to get whatever one is after – merit, appreciation, gratitude – it doesn’t work. It’s a contradiction in terms. One doesn’t give in order to get. One gives in order to give. Only when one investigates this and inquires into it, does one see that quite clearly. If one gives in order to give, one is certain to get, namely happiness, satisfaction, peace of mind, contentment.

- Ayya Khema

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The value of restraint

Our culture often gives the message that happiness depends on having as few restraints as possible, that the more we can do exactly what we want and have our own way the better off we'll be. No so. Truly!

With restraint, we are open to everything that arises, but we see with discriminating wisdom, without becoming lost or forgetful. With wisdom and awareness we can see that there are skillful activities that are conducive to greater happiness and understanding, and there are unskillful ones that lead to further suffering and conflict. Restraint is the capacity we have to discriminate one from the other, and the strength and composure of mind to pursue the skillful course.

-- Joseph Goldstein

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

If you haven't discovered the wonderful LOL blogs, please go to the mother of them all, "I Can Has Cheezburger". I recommend that you go to the archives and start at the beginning!

About desire

Not long ago, I was browsing at Border's and picked up a little book called "101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting". Here's one of those things:
Getting rid of your desire for something is as good as possessing it.
It follows that the more expectations you have, the more unhappiness you are likely to experience. Even when something good comes your way, you will not feel grateful once you get it.

For this reason it's wise to reveiw your expectations regularly.
And, of course, the meditative process teaches us who to let go of desires by have us practice just that with our thoughts throughout the meditation session.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I really think we all need to give this one some careful thought and reflection:
Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me.
It's from a list of slogans sent to me by Charlotte Alexandre.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Smokey at rest
Photo by Bill Miller
(Bill's blog is here.)

The value of compassion

This is so, so true:

The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.

--Arthur H. Stainback

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happiness and inner development

I think this is in the "no kidding" category:

Materialistic knowledge can only provide a type of happiness that is dependent upon physical conditions. It cannot provide happiness that springs from inner development.

- The Dalai Lama

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

The Thinking Rabbit
Photo by Bill Miller

Another description of mindfulness

If you're constantly thinking about what you'd rather be doing—getting off work, driving a different car, or eating dessert, your mind is starving for mindfulness. So what? Well, if you're reading an instant message and talking on your cell phone while thinking about things you need to get at the store, you're not doing any of these things fully—and essentially, you're missing out on your own life.

The antidote? Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a quality you can cultivate in any situation—whether you're walking down the street or washing the dishes... In mindfulness meditation you stop the restlessness of your mind by focusing your undivided attention on whatever you're experiencing in the here and now. The simplest version involves simply focusing on your breath. By enhancing your awareness in this way, you calm your mind, experience life more fully, and bring new clarity of thought to any situation that comes your way.

-- From the Beliefnet meditation page

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The perfect teacher

Once again, I want to emphasize that becoming meditators does not mean we will never experience difficult feelings again. It means, rather, that we will learn to relate to those feelings differently than we did before:

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. They're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are.

Pema Chödrön in When Things Fall Apart

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Kindness is an inner desire that makes us want to do good things even if we do not get anything in return. It is the joy of our life to do them. When we do good things from this inner desire, there is kindness in everything we think, say, want and do.

- Emmanuel Swedenborg

Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Sally Lloyd

Spirituality and Creativity

I've always liked the image of birth in describing spirituality. It is not something we make from material outside ourselves; it is not something we acquire like a commodity. Rather it is gestated within us and we bring if forth with both great pain and great joy:

The spiritual journey is a creative journey. It’s about birth. It calls us past the boundaries of convention. It tests our willingness to see life in a new way and our courage to express it: for new ways of viewing life in the face of what is commonly accepted. We become new, and in this ongoing birthing, we bring new forms to life as well. Life itself has become a creative act, full of vitality and richness and passion.

--Anne Hillman