Friday, July 31, 2009

That gyroscope in your heart

Good morning, dear readers.

Perhaps, like me, you sometimes tune in to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR and are familiar with the gentle jokes about English majors. Here is a question addressed to Garrison Keillor and the beginnings of his answer:
So, what exactly IS an English major supposed to do after college?
This is the beautiful problem that confounds us all, Andrea, and we must face it every morning with as much wit and bravery as we can summon up. What you do, exactly, is get out of bed, pee, put water on to boil for tea or coffee, put bread in the toaster, choose between the apricot and blueberry yoghurt, eat slowly and thoughtfully, take a shower, and put on clean clothes, and by this time you likely will know what comes next. Merce Cunningham faced this problem and so does Michelle Obama and Brett Favre and the Queen of Tonga. If I believed in the efficacy of long-range planning, I'd recommend it, but I believe in luck and improvisation and the gyroscope in your heart and the built-in b.s. detector that English majors are supposed to acquire, having created so much of it in our term papers.
All right. This is true of meditaors as well! We are supposed to have a built-in b.s. detector having had so much of it arise in what we call our "distractions" during meditation. I also don't much believe in the "efficacy of long-range planning" and I highly recommend the approach offered above by Mr. Keillor.

(Yes, and that "10 items or less" sign in the stores irritates me no end as well!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New meditation blog

I have just found a new meditation blog. Well it's new to me. The name of it is "Meditation Secrets Revealed" and the blog owner is Vlad Moskovski, someone who has studied meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qiqong, and Aikido. He states that "...[while] our scientific understanding of the world has brought us wonderful technology, our understanding of the human potential and the world of the mind is rudimentary; it is the greatest unexplored frontier." I so agree and often make that very point in session one of the Foundations course here at the Center.

Here's something Vlad says in one of his posts that I found a bit amusing:
While siting at a workshop last week, I noticed that several people around me were having trouble paying attention and sitting still. The topic was interesting, the presenter was being extremely engaging and yet here they were, fidgeting. As part of an exercise in non-judgment and listening, attendants were asked to pair up and take turns give advice on problem areas in their partner’s lives. I was not surprised to see that patience was one of the top resources that people frequently wish they had more of...
He then goes on to offer three meditation techniques to help us cultivate patience. Go on over there and check them out! Here's the post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A point of rest

This is simply beautiful. I hope you think so too:

When we come to a point of rest in our own being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest, and then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud becomes a revelation, and each person we meet a cosmos whose riches we can only glimpse.

Dag Hammarskjöld

Monday, July 27, 2009

A few happiness skills

Hey, you could do a lot worse than this, you know:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something about values

Paul Rogers sent me this. Thanks, Paul!

Think for yourself!

Something I really appreciate about the meditative tradition is that it is not dependent upon a belief system as such. Meditation is, rather, about cultivating happiness and alleviating suffering. It does this through very practical, demonstrable principles along with regular practice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One infinitesimal moment

I really am glad that I found this poem. Spend some time with it, okay?

One Easy Step to Enlightenment

First off, and I do mean first
You know in your heart
that the times are changing
Oh so much slower than we thought
and you know in your heart
that the good guys and the bad guys
don't know any more than you what's going on
End of the World?
End of Time?
I'm here to tell you
and yes that is my job
It doesn't matter
This moment and only this moment, matter
It is your heart, your very soul
that will shape this moment
and when we, together
Awaken to the idea
that is this moment
we will reach out
without any thought for
what's in it for us
without any notion of our need
but reach out in one infinitesimal
for no other reason than to
In the Moment

-- Krev Roues

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday cat blogging!

Your reset button

This is a very, very thought provoking sentence:

He discovered his reset button early on and there were not many things that bothered him all the rest of his days just because of that.

-- Brian Andreas

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh my: that troublesome old ego!

Here's a wonderful paragraph from the forward to Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World by Ed and Deb Shapiro.

I think I am the most important being in the world, but nobody else thinks it is about me, time doesn't think it is about me, space doesn't think it is about me, the planet doesn't think it is about me. It doesn't take much to get the message that it is actually not about me! But if somebody comes and steps on my toe or wants to take away my strawberries, then suddenly it is all about me again!

- Robert Thurman

There's a nice little article about this book over on The Huffington Post that features Law & Order actor, Linus Roache.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This is something about priorities and also something about impermanence:

The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow - but the rainbow may not wait...

-- Unknown

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things change

Someone gave me a lovely little book called The Future Is Now by The 17th Karmapa. It is an easy book to dip into as it has a short little teaching on each page beside an evocative photograph. Here's one I came across that I really like:
It is impossible to be at your best or your worst at all times. Who is always consistent? Everyone changes according to different situations and as they go through life's different phases. There is no point in feeling great pride or great shame simply because of temporary circumstances.
Well! He really challenges black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking here, doesn't he?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Painful thoughts in meditation

All to often I come across people who believe that they should strive not to think at all about anything difficult or negative. Akong Tulku writes the following in his marvelous book Taming the Tiger:
The tendency to over-react when things go right or wrong brings suffering to ourselves and others involved with us. Thus our minds need training, so that we may find balance and stability whatever the outer circumstances. It is like training a horse that is frightened by the sound of fire. By gradually acquainting the horse with the noise of fire, he will no longer be surprised by it and will cease to panic when he hears it. Similarly, if in meditation exercises we confront anger and pain again and again, over a period of time, we will be able to face and deal with them in life.
So, if distressing thoughts come up from time to time in meditation, that's actually what is supposed to happen!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Control vs choice

This brings me much consolation - and optimism too. Optimism not in results but in the assurance of insight and illumination by accepting and working skillfully with whatever happens:

"We cannot direct the wind... but we can adjust the sails."

-- Unknown

The meditative principles teach us how.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The dragons in our lives

Could be (even though I know this is really, really hard with some people):

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke is the poet who so eloquently taught us that living the questions is really more important than searching for answers.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday cat blogging!

The tipping point

Most days I make an effort to visit a site called "Inspiration Peak". Today I found a short essay by Eileen Bennett that explores whether this is a terrible time or a great time to be alive on planet Earth. It's called "The Tipping Point" and I'd like to encourage you go on over and read the whole thing. Here are two little paragraphs from the piece:
I think we are living in very exciting - if disturbing - times. When you consider all the pain and turmoil in the world, it's easy to think that we are regressing, rather than progressing. On the other hand, when you look at all the amazing things that are happening in different areas, you can see that an awakening is inevitable.

There are groups and individuals all over the world striving to make this a better place to be for everyone. The catch-phrase of the moment is 'tipping point' - and everybody can lend their weight to ensuring that we tip into a positive, life-enhancing future, rather than sink further into a negative, destructive one.
Well, I don't know whether the destruction can be turned around or not. What I do know is that, whatever happens, I want to be counted among those who dedicated their efforts to the positive, life-enhancing approach.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How the light gets in

Here's something my dear friend, Sally Lloyd, sent me this morning. You will, undoubtedly recognize the song but the video that's been put together by way of illustration is probably new. And I find it very moving indeed:

In case you don't know much about Leonard Cohen, you can read about him here.

There is a strong message here about meditative practice as I'm sure you'll recognize.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday life form blogging


We do well to remember this. And it's not meant to make us despair but, rather, to support us in becoming liberated:

What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Here's something for your reflection -- especially for those who are convinced that the "geographical cure" will make everything better:

One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

~ Henry Miller

And you know that I'm going to say that the meditation process - both formal sitting and the application of the principles to everyday life - makes it possible for us to cultivate that new way of looking at things. It really does! And not just superficially or temporarily, either. If we continue meditating and learning to let go of ego grasping, our way of looking at things truly changes radically.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Stars

My dear friend, Liz Roome, reminded me of the following wonderful Carl Sandburg poem this morning:

Summer Stars

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

Carl Sandburg is the person who once said that the ugliest word in the English language is "exclusive".

Something to think about.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Keep walking, move within

Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings.
Move within,
But don't move the way fear makes you move.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Return to reality

I found an article today called Meditation as Awakening to the Now. Here's part of what it says.
Meditation, in contrast to popular belief, is not deep concentration or the tuning out of external stimulus for the sake of transcending daily life. Meditation, rather, is a return to reality.
For most of us, the value in meditation comes from our lack of awareness in day to day living. In the activity of nearly all things we are constantly looking toward the next event, or musing over dead experiences and ideas. Very rarely do we see, touch, smell, hear, and contemplate our present.
We really need to let go of that seductive idea that in meditation we're going to tune the real world out. Such an approach is, rather, a way of cultivating the mind poison of delusion.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The present little inch

We all know this deep down. We really, really do. For some reason that is difficult to understand, we forget. And so we need to be reminded:

Watch your way then, as a cautious traveler; and don't be gazing at that mountain or river in the distance, and saying, "How shall I ever get over them?" but keep to the present little inch that is before you, and accomplish that in the little moment that belongs to it. The mountain and the river can only be passed in the same way; and, when you come to them, you will come to the light and strength that belong to them.

-- M. A. Kelty

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A WONDERFUL meditation story

Really, people. This is the best meditation story ever! How many times have we been taught to let go of attachment to results? Remember this story! It will not only help you cultivate acceptance and non-attachment, it will also stimulate your sense of humor!

A student went to see his meditation teacher and said, “My situation is horrible! I feel so distracted most of the time, or my legs ache, or I’m repeatedly falling asleep. It’s terrible.” Said the teacher matter-of-factly, “It will pass.”

A week later, the student returned to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive!” “It will pass,” replied the teacher.
I'm very sorry. I forgot where I found this so I can't give you a link. Maybe I'll come across it again. If I do, I'll publish the link in an update.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

More about connectedness

All too often I find myself in conversations with people who think that berating themselves is a good motivator or that self-loathing is somehow a mark of humility. Not so! Not so! And, therefore, you can understand why I was so delighted to find the following:

Believing in yourself is not just for you; it's for every person who has touched your life in a significant way and for every person your life will touch the same way five minutes from now, or five centuries from now.

-- Jaye Miller

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Still water

“We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see”

-- Taoist proverb

The way to take a break from running is to meditate. But you know that.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Something else about time

Oh my. I really love this. It is marvelously encouraging and consoling:

The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour
are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.

-- Arnold Bennett, 1867-1931

You know, so many slogans and sayings of the "conventional wisdom" variety warn of the terrible consequences of wasting time. This takes a whole new approach.

And, anyway, what some people call "wasting time", I call giving myself permission just to be. We all need that. And people around us need it in us, too!