Saturday, August 6, 2011

To All Subscribers and Followers

Dear Friends,
As of Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, all of Karma Life Readings' posts have been moved to
However, you faithful subscribers and followers were left behind. Please see a new post at the new address: "Time to Soften the Mind" . . . a video of Thich Nhat Hanh. Please do re-subscribe to continue receiving notifications of new posts.
many thanks,

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Pity Party is Long Since Gone

 What happened in between?

I woke up this morning, slightly depressed as I usually am, and again decided I wasn't going there, and as every day, did my morning thing that brought me to peace. This morning, somehow I began to think of the incredible suffering of people everywhere that totally trumped what pathetic little stuff I was moaning about to many Western doctors.

Then I started to think of how few people on this planet had deluxe food, buckets of water right at hand, tempurpedic mattress, cell phone, A/C, computer, etc. What about that feeble old down-scuffling black man on Vine St.? Did he have a home? Probably not. Did he have money for food? Probably not.

Or the thickly sunburned white couple sitting on plastic cartons all day, holding their homeless help signs up to people in A/C cars, windows rolled up, looking straight ahead . . . if you don't look, you won't feel anything. THEY become near criminals because their house was foreclosed on, and neither one can get a job. Nobody stops all day. They're just closing up when a young man walks up to them and hands them a 20. The woman grabs hold of him in a full embrace and begins to cry. You're the first one to give us anything all day. We're from Alabama. O you're so sweet. And she hugs him again.

Their suffering is 10 times mine. And with this heat wave? So many old poor people downtown without even fans.

And the suffering inflicted by our own people on the planet is 50 times more than that of our homeless.

I did not start out to be morbid, yet . . . here we are. And so I have a heart of gratitude today for everything I have and everyone I know . . . from which there is no escape from being separated, eventually (says Thich Nhat Hanh). But that's another story . . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Karma Life's Readings . . . Life Thinkings from a Tibetan Buddhist Perspective: Where Are You Mother-Wit?

Where Are You Mother-Wit?

I met this girl named Sana (as in "Sam"). Well, she's not a girl, she's a woman, like me, 59, but so much paler than me, kinda whispy . . . like the sound of her name. She had recently moved to Crestone, Colorado (gosh, I wish I could do that) from Cincy. We had been friends on and off for ages. But now she was gone. Sana to Calarada.

When Sana was here for years, that girlfriend of mine had a bunch of rough stuff running through her like a herd of buffalo, and gettin' worse so she had to take stacks of pharmaceuticals and go to doctors like that was her job. What could I do? Just be there for real heart-to-heart hugs and let-it-out tears and still long, real hugs. Well, Sana had been sick with so many things all at once, you couldn't help but think she was being groomed for something in the Universe, something she would uncover in herself—a way to help the Universe.

But she told me how flippin' hard it was. So alone, adrift of all other like-minded kin but me. And as we both knew: no Sangha or sangha (like-minded Buddhist) community near.

We were real intimate so I knew she had fibromyalgia beating and defeating her physical strength—not to mention the deep morning body-wide ache, both aspects lingering in and out in the day; 2 hip surgeries since late 2007 and another one for her bloody neck coming up, supposedly, on August 19, 2011; bipolar disorder whacking her worst than ever—since spring, like the whacking whacking dusting of a rug, hanging out back on the clothesline, the dust being cleaned out of it so violently; cervical dystonia treated with Botox. Before Botox her face was full of grimacing contortions she couldn't control. Nor could she, progressively, control the involuntary yank of her chin down to a tremor. O Sana Sana . . . as one doctor said, You're a mess.

She told me, Sana whispered, that her lower back hurt her all days most days. She could only slouch on her daybed or be flat . . . ALL DAY . . . but life had to go on. So she sought out healers and friends who gave of their gifts to her of Ayurvedic consultations, of nourishing soups and breads, and a mother who inevitably brought a gourmet meals-on-wheels nearly every evening. Sana had been this way since last October and here it was the first week of July, the zenith of it all, it seemed.

Yet she had not been hospitalized. She tried with all that she was capable of each day to practice Dharma—true practice. If she didn't have the Buddha's method for happiness, and his teachings about how to live in a suffering world, and to be capable of helping others—a true method, step by logical step—if she hadn't experienced all this for 11 years, she would be either long gone or drunk daily. This was a very important commonality between us, i.e., we'd been each other's sangha community. The Third Jewel. The nurses who care for you and your spirit.

Yet she was gone . . . for about 2 months now. She'd decided to live in Crestone because a wonderful Dharma teacher and author was there: Reginald Ray, founder of Dharma Ocean Foundation. She had heard his online excerpts of teachings and found a profound affinity with his voice, his timing, his humility, his thorough, unbiased scholarship. So she moved to a state that had medical marijuana. Of course I called and said O Sana Sana, what's it like?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

She Ponders Her Reifications

And you may be pondering what the heck I'm talking about . . .
As Tibetan Buddhist practitioners from east and west agree, nothing has an inherent (separate) existence of its own. The natural law that everything is changing constantly, in other words, impermanence, is the opposite of reification. To reify is to make something solid and unchanging; to turn an object, a person, etc., into a permanent, singular personal perspective.

As this unrealized being realizes intellectually, I have reified many objects and people in hopes of having ground under my feet, in hopes of not suffering, of being secure. Yet, Buddhism tells me that the tree is not separate from the roots, which are not separate from the earth, which is not separate from any other named object. It is the naming of an object that deludes us all into thinking that the planet is a huge pile of separate, named objects.

Just imagine the earth and all earthlings, as plays of porous light all webbed together like a fine net of light streams. When part of the net moves in the slightest, it impacts the entire net of light (like the movement of the butterfly's wings can eventually be a cause for the tumbling down of a bookcase in China: we are talking about another natural law of the universe, that of cause and effect).

If the butterfly was separate from all else, unto itself, it would become a cause for nothing. Yet, can you name anything that does not have a cause? If we reify ourselves, we become isolated, rigid, afraid as we attempt not to change, cling to our youthful bodies, and cling desperately to any belief that helps us be grounded and "safe".

Reification is a huge delusion in all our lives. Come on. Admit it.

Yet the wonderful possibility is that we all can eject the process of reification in our lives by embracing impermanence, contemplating impermanence (which leads to the conscious realization that someday we will change so much, we will enact that ultimate change: our own demise).

Back to reification: I have reified people in my mind, mostly relatives and ex-husbands and ex-lovers. I want them to stay exactly the way they were when we first communicated. Yet mickey today is not the mickey of yesterday anymore. Yes, I do have an inner essence (Buddha nature) that does not change. What changes is my accumulation of experiences day by day, year by year . . . so I have been changed by my experiences.

An example of reification of a person is the grasping attachment to a person who is there no longer. We tend to reify our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, etc., because we knew them at a much earlier age, and that perception of them is concrete and limited in our minds.

For example a mother reifies her son as 7 years old though he is 30. Another mother may reify her daughter as 15 years old though she is nearly 59. It does not allow our dear ones to grow or change as is natural. So many life experiences radically change our later behavior. There truly is nothing to hang onto with any person or object.
The great challenge then is to become familiar and comfortable with groundlessness . . . nothing to hold on to, nothing. If we can prepare ourselves for the ultimate groundlessness of passing away, we can begin by being open to the changing person who is our relative or friend or . . . We can do this by feeling what Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Buddhist monk nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King)—what this Master Teacher terms "Inter-being." Interdependence is another important quality to engage, because there is no denying that one cannot live and grow without the help of others.

All are one. I want to act as one with the planet, drift effortlessly into the flow of the river of impermanence. No easy task in a materially-oriented society and world.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Out of the Closet

   Ok, out I come . . . a 58-year-old bipolar-afflicted person. It has taken me so long to accept this condition as "real." And even longer to realize that possibly the 2 poles are that bipolar disorder is an affliction and a gift at the same time. The increased sensitivity brings me hell or visions and creativity.
   What I don't know is how the disorder is seen in relation to Tibetan Buddhism. Though, as I look at the patterns of this life, many people, monks, groups have cast me out, despite especially, a group I had contributed to and participated in for 11 years. I was one of the longest-lasting members of a local monastery, yet was rarely permitted to have any ongoing responsibility. The stigma of the disorder turned into gossip that "mickey is crazy."
   Gosh, it's hard to accept oneself when most people around me haven't ever experienced the extreme anxiety and dark hell of the disorder. If something is not understood, it is dispensed with. Yet, in order to open and soften my heart, I intend to love and accept this unusual rebirth myself . . . as we all have to do. We are born alone and die alone. I want to be capable of relieving the suffering of beings of all kinds. Yet guidance within Tibetan Buddhism remains non-specific to this condition. Do any Dharma practitioners out there have some helpful advice or knowledge or experience to share concerning this issue?
   And like I've said before: Enlightenment or Bust!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Mind That is Blue as the San Diego Sky

The past drifts and changes like the clouds. Our minds conjure delusion upon delusion as we categorize/criticize any particular phenomenon in our memories. Yet we're as changeable as the clouds. Our personal and collective past become like the white light of clouds, transforming at every moment; obscurations to direct clarity of sunlight, of Truth—lost, for many moments or hours.

Like entities being born, thriving, then fading to a wisp before our very eyes in a few seconds.

Like trying to find your way amongst sand dunes: a wind comes along and the whole geography becomes another planet. Life is feeling more and more like that—groundless.

Yet Pema Chodron, the Western Buddhist nun at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, teaches that we must accustom ourselves to this groundlessness. NOTHING to hang on to. No ONE. No THING.

Big fat fear.

Sky-gazing for a long time. Sky mind. Cloudy, grey? Fluffed white and San Diego blue? A blue that goes on forever. May Father Sky imprint his story on my mindstream. O Mother Earth, you give me my life.

Healing means letting go of a cloud.

Friday, March 4, 2011

So She Says Ta Me

So she says ta me, It Just Is

She’s got lots of money, but she doesn’t.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Ten thousand civilians killed
in Afghanistan.
Not doin’ a thing.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Two years in a row with zero increase
to live in a dying empire.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Prisons are stuffed to the gills.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

A river of beings in a murk of a flow.
They Go.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Traumatized at birth, she pulled in 
from the world.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

The drench of a rain down the trunk
of that tree.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Someone who hears how the rain
washes pain.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

She tells her Buddhist psychologist
about a recent meltdown.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

Her horses were wild,
but they’re now reconciled.
She Charioteers by watching her breath.
So she says ta me, It Just Is.

mickey morgan
new moon
30th day of 13th moon, 2137
waxing moon

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Letting Go

Well, I just have to speak up about Letting Go. I've never in my life had so many inner and outer and unilar opportunities to let go, to cleanse, to struggle, and wail, and pity myself . . . but to keep going because I had to, and was committed to, and could not expect any other to shoulder the burden of me in this lifetime, with my unique pile of issues—a pile of laundry to separate into whites and blacks. Yet I decided to wash everything together . . . and most of it still sits behind me in a pile, waiting to be folded and put away after a week.
That too has been Let Go. It's ok. I said it was ok to me. To spend the ever-churning days and nights practicing watching my breath, or saying mantras and practices in front of this altar I've designed, saying the practices according to a pre-devised, 30-day schedule for the lunar month. This is the biggest part of the day. This is my job as I lay in my bed. I go to work with my routine of mundane responsibilities, like everyone else with a home, then the spiritual work begins and lasts until about 2pm, then begins about 9pm till 11 . . . then I sleep by watching my breath.
Who else lives like this? Alone? With similar intentions? Have I let go of the World? Or has the World let go of me? Either way, letting go is the way to go.
May your heart open so all can see your natural, uncontrived nature, your Buddha nature. Let go of your life at every exhale says Pema Chodron. Be ready to die at every exhalation. And be ok with it. 
I discovered a few days ago that I would just give up on my expectations of the results of an important issue. Ok. I let go. Go on. Don't look back. And kawumph. Gift from the Universe on Tuesday, gift from the Universe on Wednesday afternoon, gift from the Universe on Wednesday night. This is no new teaching, but it is the first time I have experienced it.
Prayers? Meditations? Watching breath? Sending out healing light to others? I'm so grateful to be physically and mentally in contention with the Universe. The choice is clear: The World or The Path. I choose the path and whatever serves it. I am inspired that the Universal loving forces have heard my sob-filled requests. I offer my tears to the Grandmothers. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

And Yet Another Potentially Missed Buddha: Michael Talbot . . . the Bridge

Apparently, Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe, died in 1991 just after completing his book.

I read his book when I had 2 or 3 years of Tibetan Buddhism under my belt . . . c. 2003. It seemed to me, astoundingly, at the time, how fluid and parallel were the two descriptions of aspects of the Truths of the Universe. The book, to me, is a bridge between science and Buddhism, yet true consideration of those parallel contents were never explored within scientific forums[i?] . . . I suppose because of Michael Talbot's passing so long ago. The book is a mind-blowing connection, especially if you have some knowledge of both hard science and Tibetan Buddhism.

As long as I'm on a book review thing . . .  the next MUST for any sane person, especially Western Health Professionals and their Consumers—H. H. the Dalai Lama's The Universe in a Single Atom. Western health pros will, I swear, be astonished . . . or I'll pay for your book! Having read it, and having been on the "consumer" end of Western health care since 1993, I have a credible experience to bring to bear on the claims made in His Holiness's book.

We're just not getting it here: that Tibetan Buddhist Psychology has been evolving for more than 2500 years. How do you think Tibetan doctors view the mental health system here?
They are astonished at all the pills.
They are astonished that the whole person's life is not treated by one doctor (as in their tradition).
Their psychology has enabled all Tibetans to endure incredible pain as ordinary, and go about the day as usual.
At least read the first chapter in the bookstore.

Alright, this is the last. You don't deserve to be deluged, and I certainly don't want to dilute the importance of the 2 above texts . . . but time is short. Read In Search of Medicine Buddha (whose author I've shamefully forgotten, though whose writing became for me a revelation). A male Ayurvedic practitioner from California takes a journey to the Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan . . . I could be wrong . . . seeking out doctors everywhere and learning some of their practices. The hidden cures of each of these healing practices is generally unknown to the rest of the world . . . we're talkin' about cures for AIDS . . . and true alchemy. The author, David [something] came back to California, and I think now has a huge Ayurvedic business . . . I haven't checked lately.

I read the book years ago. In Search of Medicine Buddha embraces the whole realm of working with the sacredness of the earth; ecology; botany, etc., because all Tibetan medicines are from the earth. The author is currently planting forests in these areas.

Yet the same dismissal of the issue on a national/international scale. Duh, don't I know better than this? I've shut my mouth for so long. Just like trillions before me, around me and after me.

We're too cozy in this country.

But . . . "I don't no to much"

Ok, you're off the book-hook.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Waning of the Male Iron Tiger Year, 2137 (Chinese, Tibetan)

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011                                                                            14th day of 12th moon, 2137

Accept things as they are. Do not name it as it passes. It never stops passing. Get over it. We're going to die. We're going to suffer more.

I've been running from this suffering forever; and the more I perpetuate that activity, running and running, grasping at others ("Help! Help!"), the BIGGER the unnamed grows . . . not yet catching up to me, but a bigger and bloody bigger fact that fills and fills my mindstream with fear.

I want to accept with equanimity that I, now, cell by cell, like all other beings, am dying. And I want that to be ok as I live healthily and happily a very long and productive virtuous life . . . to be able to expose to as many people what Wisdom and Compassion I have inherited, experienced, and been taught . . . which is to give all.

I want to die totally relaxed, without any afflictive emotions distracting me, with this mind in single-pointed concentration on Ven. Geshela, full of peace, and emanating love, and dying for the sake of all beings with a consciousness. Pema Chodron's encouragement to die at each exhalation—one's last—such a practice!

I have been acting on this, minimally, at the moments I remember her teaching.

May the moments last longer and longer till there is no gap amongst them.

Then I think I would be balanced and capable, able to move around in peace in samsara, this endless cycle of suffering.

Accept what comes at you with equanimity, stillness as the surface of a lake, with poise, dignity, balance always, aware of one's breathing, one's body. Go with the flow. Relax in the ever-swiftening current of this river of suffering.

Things pass you faster and faster. You want to see it all, but it becomes increasingly difficult. I think I could see it all if I were in the mode of mind previously described.

I want to see my sky-mind clearly, and be able to sustain the vision. What strength this will take! What perseverance, powerful intention and action! What patience and discipline!

I want to do this . . . to uncover what is already there inside me. To See what is already there. To understand and be capable of integrating the Four Noble Truths [google it] for the purpose of benefiting all suffering beings with a consciousness. For you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Did We Miss a Buddha In Our Midst?

Dear Ones All, Charlene, Lexi,

    Today is the day to celebrate the altruistic, bodhisattva, buddha, who was here for a time to try mightily and heroically to mend the world's suffering. Some of us saw him as such a saint because we had done something positive in the past that gave us the karma to see through the delusions thrown at us by deluded others, onto our paths, like veil after veil after veil . . . till you see nothing of the Truth.
    Some of us didn't have the karma, but could sadly only see a faint shadow through their many delusions and so, misjudged

The Venerable Lama Reverend and Revered Martin Luther King

     A Bodhisattva is a human being who has committed herself and himself to becoming Enlightened (achieving Great Compassion and achieving the Wisdom of Realizing Emptiness). She's first. He's first. Like the child and the parent flying and plummeting in a plane. She puts on her oxygen mask first to help her child;
he puts on his own oxygen mask, first, to help his child. And not just for herself, ignoring the oxygen for her child; not just for himself ((Nirvana, ie., personal liberation from suffering)).

     A Bodhisattva INTENDS so strongly upon these virtuous goals. She and he Train Their Minds, Control Their Minds . . . towards the end of Great Compassion. Not just for a select few. But Great Compassion for every being with a consciousness.

    A Buddha, like Shakyamuni Buddha of this era (Prince Siddhartha at first), has achieved Enlightenment.

     I am not saying I have the karma to see Precious Martin Luther King as a Buddha . . . that takes many years of strong intention . . . but, intellectually, with 11 years of study and excellent teachings, I'm thinking he may have been.

     But I don't know.

    I do know and I have seen and heard directly that The Dear Dr. King was committed to the path of the Bodhisattva, and had already attained greater love and caring for others far beyond probably 99% of the rest of us on this planet.

Our Treasure Doctor King
This planet needs you now more than ever

            All our honor and love for everything you did,
            Mother Earth, Father Sun

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Could ja use a little inspiration?

from Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart:
"When we cling to thoughts and memories,  we are clinging to what cannot be grasped. When we touch these phantoms, and let them go, we discover a space, a break in the chatter, a glimpse of open sky. This is our birthright—the wisdom with which we were born, the vast unfolding display of primordial richness, primordial openness, primordial wisdom itself. All that is necessary then is to rest undistractedly in the immediate present, in this very instant in time. And if we become drawn away by thoughts, by longings, by hopes and fears, again and again we can return to this present moment. We are here. We are carried off as if by the wind, and as if by the wind, we are brought back. When one thought has ended and another has not begun, we can rest in that space. We train in returning to the unchanging heart of this very moment. All compassion and all inspiration come from that."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Men Have Gone With Their Whims

What an interesting synchronicity that within two weeks, two major sources of male energy seem to have fled from this being called mickeypamo.
One, is a former lover of decades ago . . . when I was about 19, 20, and he was about 35. As professional ballet dancers, we performed and toured together with a dance company in New York City c. 1971 to 1973. A connection spanning some 38 years. We managed to connect somehow online a couple of years ago. Yet, the past few days, I've been thinking "that's the last I'll hear of him," as I imagine him running to the hills . . . because of mistaken semantics.
And if he asked me, I would tell him that "the love of a 20-year-old is different from that of a 58-year-old Buddhist woman. Love at 20 is not love, but only egotistical grasping for self-pleasure (and of course, many other things). Love for this Buddhist woman is in the growing desire for the other's Happiness." That's what I would say.
The other, an intense and driven author in Topanga Canyon, in all his Ariesian ways, came in like a blast on the web, into my life, like a devourer, saying, saying, saying some of our recent and quite incredible synchronicities occurring between us like magic, which was and is and will be absolutely so. Yet, the arrogance of my pressing myself too hard as a teacher . . . then, one teaching too many, and he was gone. Also in a semantics-like way. Such as the difference between multi-tasking and giving your presence to someone %100.
In both these cases, I have spoken my truth in my language, which is not anyone else's responsibility to learn. I guess I'm not in a monastery.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Seen and the Seer are One

If that is so, my mother is me, and I am my mother, and I am that altar, and I am its arrangement, and I am this bed and this mattress I feel under me is me and the tree I see out the window is me drinking up the cold fall rain in Cincinnati. A much-needed rain since the beginning of this summer's drought. Even the buckeye trees didn't have their pop pop popping period of time when their heavy fruity nuts would drop, and every squirrel would be running hither and yon trying to keep up with the deluge of the upcoming winter's sustenance. Now the little guys are eating all they can find. I don't think they have food stored for the long winter. Some may die, others may survive, skinny, next spring. 

So, 900 Haitians with cholera are me . . . that has been established. I'm unable to help that part of myself, nor the parts of myself swarming with mourning Iraqis and Afghans. I'm hidden away here, trying to heal myself so maybe I can help those women in Africa who are helping other women form coalitions of labor, profitable businesses for themselves; whose husbands often beat them for joining one of these groups called "Javala". Oxfam let me know that. Oxfam let me know that the woman part of me is rallying together to become more than the sum of these parts. All parts must be cared for equally or life will continue to degrade across the planet. Take care.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sad, Relatively Unknown News of Tibetan Buddhists' Infighting

Several of my friends have approached me with eagerness to say, "The Dalai Lama is coming to Cincinnati! Are you going?" I remain neutral and answer that H.H. the Dalai Lama has requested that anyone from my lineage, not attend his teachings. "What! Why?"
Because of a hundreds-of-years-old conflict concerning a certain Dharma protector (protecting the words and knowledge of the teachings of the Buddha) named Dorje Shugden. Many years ago, H.H. the Dalai Lama—a wonderful man who has done much for the world—wrote praises and poems revering Dorje Shugden. Then he changed his mind, and announced that Dorje Shugden is a demon. He asked that anyone revering Dorje Shugden (as my teachers do, and as I do), not come to his teachings.
Many negative events occurred following this pronouncement, which have come close to violence and death in the Tibetan Community. Nonetheless, these people without a land of their own, are divided against each other.
The saddest event came about by way of an order given by H.H. the Dalai Lama, that my teachers' home monastery in Southern India, Gaden Shartse Monastery housing and feeding and schooling thousands of monks, was to send all the monks revering Dorje Shugden onto the streets: no food or shelter was to be given to them. This action left hundreds of monks and nuns homeless.
The Mongolian, American and Tibetan support for these outcasts enabled them to build an entirely new monastery, also in Southern India, which had its formal opening in 2008(?). There is a Dorje Shugden Society to be found on a website.
This news is vastly unexposed, yet my teachers have been denied entrance to H.H. the Dalai Lama's teachings anywhere; one of my special teachers was in the middle of a crowd of hecklers coming close to violence, so much so, that the police had to put my teacher and his fellow monks on a bus to protect them.
I try not to get depressed or disillusioned about this, because the words of the Buddha are pure and good, just as the words of the Catholic faith are merciful. Yet look at what is happening in the Catholic Church with its many child-molesting priests. Are there similarities here? Humanity means human frailty, and H.H. the Dalai Lama is no exception. I wish him a long life, happiness and prosperity. And I will continue my Dharma practice with joyous effort.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dream Themes: Clothes and Cages

Night after night, dreams of lost clothes, clothes that slip off me and are lost, searches for something to cover my nakedness (despite preferring it) because of a nod to society's demands of the shame of the human body . . . a contradiction as men pump iron and women wheel furiously in front of cable TV in Sports Clubs . . . the perfect body striven for. We absorb both the shame of bodily exposure and the pride of rippled and muscular abdomens, et al. As I think of it now, I've given in to society's strictures to the detriment of revealing my authentic being, this naked Truth. Spiritual growth is blocked in fear of others' reprimands.

And last night, enrolling in a school where I learned nothing . . . fun-loving teens crowding the halls all the time . . . no memory of a single class.
Rooms are filthy with dust, cluttered with trash, disorganized messes of objects, toys perhaps. I spend a good deal of time trying to clean and order one room, but there is just too much to do everywhere to make it a better place.

I want to get out of the crowd, pay the dormitory rent to a strict and stocky principal. She asks for cash. I tell her I have check or credit card. So I'm digging through my overpacked disorganized bag for the credit card, and at first think I've found it, but it's a stack of pictures of my son from childhood to manhood I always carry with me. I find the card, planning to pay the rent, then get on a train and GET OUT. Go. Travel. Let go of all that's holding me from learning, growing. Wander to find the Truth.

As I contemplate last night's dream, the cage of a place where I learn nothing and pay for it, distracted by numerous other chattering beings, the old desire to escape emerges. "Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." The school is the chaos of samsara where precious human lifetime is wasted in play and delusions. Graduation adds no happiness, but the delusion of arrogance of being better than others.
Here, too, I want to run, get away, be alone, grow alone, teach and heal myself.

When I wake, my mind is agitated, overloaded with negative dreams, night after night. I watch my breath for a long time, only the breath, only the breath . . . and decide that running is useless. The Truth is in watching my breath, my hand, feeling this body move . . . Mindfulness.

Authentic being, the Truth is not to be found by escape from the circumstances one is in. Authentic being and Truth is under the crust, the armor of all my delusions. It is everywhere, if I could only see, no matter where I am geographically . . . a work in progress I yam.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A prophetic dream of the deepening suffering and schism that is to come (after George Orwell’s 1984)

In the year 2065, when my son, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps is 84 years old—if he is still alive, and I wish him a long long life—and when I will have left this work of mickey to go on to greater responsibility, the United States will control the world. The Bible Belt will be the “axis mundi” and the only remaining resources of pure air, pure water and pure food will be piped in, as Mother Earth is sucked dry and left rotting outside a colossal tube of arched plexiglas spanning higher than Mt. Meru and enclosing the several former states. Light and air and green trees, running waters, abundant food, flowers and peace inside—dark gritty smog, ashes, rot, rubbish and skeletons picked clean, hungry ghosts emaciated, outside the bubble . . . all over the earth it is like this, except in that swathing white belt on the former North American continent.

White and worthy Christian children play in piles of warm sand, their clothes clean and ever new, colorful, novel, with pockets and nooks filled daily with bubblegum and surprises by mothers lounging poolside, or continuously sipping cocktails in swirling jacuzzis on wooden decks jutting out from huge mansions. Their men know their place better than any and stride fearlessly over massive grasses of golf courses. If they had been able to chain the sun and halt its democratic dance of day and night, these virile intellects would have done so long ago after cleverly imprisoning all other earthly resources indefinitely, though most old war chiefs continue to ponder this strategic necessity so as to bring the ancient ball of fire permanently into homeland service for the security of these deservingly-blessed and royal few.

Dark noses, dark faces, dark and dirty palms, dark sky, dark groans of hunger, lean to the plexiglas perimeter. Rotting flesh of death stinks the air to palpable dank. Flesh has long since been consumed by starving hoards who, despite bleak prospects, continue to mate and propagate. Copulation remains the only small pleasure, yet soon they might be eating each other for whatever final drop of pleasure and relief from suffering that might bring. There is no telling who is black, white, brown, red or yellow outside the dome of the privileged blessed . . . all outside are sooty black with the ashes of death; all inside are creamy white in the blissful American tunnel of this good life.

And this is the making of her own mind. There is no stopping it. She withdraws her mind, relaxes back, and the whole scene becomes an “emanation of the wisdom of voidness and bliss.”• And so she feels blissful at the vision. Everything is happening just as it should. “By means of this development of wisdom, the entire earth and all space become filled with clouds of offering . . . ”• All the objects of her six senses become opportunities to experience bliss and emptiness. Visualizing the horror of earth’s certain demise in this way, she dreams of flying. Her mind falls back upon pillows of soft feathers. She exhales, and the sufferers disintegrate to pure light. The privileged become no less, all in a moment in her mind.

• • from The Lama Chöpa:
Offerings to the Spiritual Master:
The Method of the Profound Path, Inseparably in Bliss-Voidness, of Offering to the Guru and Assembly
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh! There Goes My Ego!

Last week in the early morning, I fell off a ladder. My mother had been distressed, had a bad night sleeping on the sofa, closing a bat into her bedroom. Now the little guy was sleeping peacefully against the topmost point of an exposed brick wall in her Victorian-ceilinged bedroom. A large wooden trunk with metal buckles and edges kept me from getting close to the wall with a plastic bowl and plate to scoop him out the window. Mom peered fearfully through the door, saying "Don't climb up there! There's nothing to hold on to!" Ah! There went my Ego! I would show her how fearless and physically superior I was in my (former) balance as a dancer. I climbed about 9 feet up, to the second-to-the-top step, and leaned. KAWAM! Down I went, gouging my back on the metal buckle, landing on my kadushy, and sat there saying a simple "Sh_t!"

Now I don't curse, being the perfect Tibetan Buddhist practitioner that I am. I lay down for a couple of minutes. She saw I was ok, patched up my back, and headed off to Oxford for the day. I walked slowly up the stairs to my apartment, lay on my bed with an ice pack on my back.
As time went on, clearly I wasn't as ok as I'd told Mom. I called my doc and asked her if I should come see her or go to the emergency room. Doc said right away to go to Christ Hospital (for the second time, second fall of this year). My neighbor/girlfriend kindly took me. No broken bones, but big beautiful green and blue bruises and scrapes.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I simply wasn't listening to my Higher Self, Inner Guidance, God, Allah, Universe, et al. I do know, intellectually, that the longer one sweeps a lesson under the rug, the louder the Universe yells. So here I am, Mack-truck-rammed . . . I think I finally get it. 

I've spent my whole life taking wild risks trying to prove something to someone, to show off, to be the heroine, the fearless, the strongest, the one who would stand out amongst others as THE BEST. It's taken years of calamities, since 2006, for me to confront my "tough" costume and start taking care of myself better. So once again, I've put myself out of commission for helping others. "Little did she even remember that she was a recovering disease-to-pleaser." (See the great book Disease to Please.) I would do anything for anybody even if it broke me in half, and the bottom line is that this is all EGO. With such an afflictive emotion running my game, no wonder I couldn't see who I truly was, what was the truth of all that was around me, no matter how many mantras and practices I did.

I had allowed myself to be dominated by the 8 mundane concerns (which I'd understood intellectually but not experientially . . . what a difference!):

Craving for pleasures of the six senses.
Craving to be free of the unpleasant.
Craving to hear sweet ego - pleasing words or sounds.
Craving to not hear ugly, displeasing words or sounds.
Craving to acquire material things.
Craving to avoid losing or not obtaining material things.
Craving for personal praise and admiration.
Craving to avoid personal slander, blame and criticism.

They are mundane because I can't take any of them with me when I die. They are like TV commercials that interrupt the narrative of the non-judgmental flow of the mind, and the spacious loving of the heart.

OK . . . I get it know, dear Universe. Can ya quit leaning on me now?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Cool, delicious, light and sweet
Clear, odorless, easy on the throat
And kind to the stomach is the water
Of the eight qualities
—excerpt from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hell is a place . . . in the mind

Though I've been studying Tibetan Buddhism for nearly 11 years, I decided to start all over with the primary text, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. For those of you who have encountered any Buddhism here in the West, you know that there are considered to be 3 types of persons . . . 3 types of persons who have 3 different intentions for this lifetime: the Small Scope person; the Medium Scope person; and the Great Scope person (like Buddha).

To start all over as a Small Scope being, one has to, among other learnings, meditate on each of the hell realms (reserved for the nastiest parts of oneself and what becomes of you if you stay that way).

There are many hells. I've been taking them one each day and meditating on being there. The descriptions sound mythological, yet I know from my previous studies not to take it all so literally. I've been surprised though, at how many of the hell realms have the same qualities as what many people living on earth experience today. (The purpose of meditating on the lower realms is to develop a fear/desire NOT to go there, and hence to Take Refuge under the protection of an Omniscient, Wise, Compassionate being).

So the Small Scope being is preparing for her next lifetime and its improved quality (if you accept the idea of reincarnation, which this writer does).

One of the hell realms is called the Hell of the Uncrossable Torrent, for example. The text reads: "The moving water is mixed with fire; it burns and cooks their bodies as boiling water cooks peas. They experience this suffering for a long time."

Immediately, I thought of BP's oil spill: if you lit a match to the surface of the water, you'd have your Uncrossable Torrent.

I also thought of a friend from Michigan whose family uses well water. Throw a match down the well and it catches fire.

I guess we've all been pretty nasty. Hell is not a determined fate. Nothing is. Free Will is our means of reversing our descent. We can do it. We can choose . . . all over the world . . . to be decent, eh?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote from Sufi Tradition

"Overcome any bitterness that may have come because you were not up to the magnitude of the pain that was entrusted to you. Like the mother of the world, who carries the pain of the world in her heart, each of us is part of her heart and therefore endowed with a certain measure of cosmic pain. You are sharing in the totality of that pain. You are called upon to meet it in joy instead of self-pity. The secret: offer your heart as a vehicle to transform cosmic suffering into joy."—excerpted from a quote in Stephen Levine's Who Dies?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I could die today

[C]ontemplation of the horror of our death is, paradoxically, the tincture of the sweetness of our mortality. . . . Since the terror of death is so overwhelming, we conspire to keep it unconscious." 
—Sam Keen in Foreword of 1997 edition of Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, 1973.

"The prospect of death . . . wonderfully concentrates the mind"—from Preface of Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, 1973

After 10 1/2 years of immersing my life in Tibetan Buddhism here in Cincinnati, Ohio, I have decided to start all over, wipe the slate clean, go back to Buddhism 101. One of the first ideas we are encouraged to contemplate is the preciousness of human existence, the realm where one suffers and one experiences pleasure. Because we have a little taste of each experience, we have the maximum possibility of attaining the purity of our already-existent Buddha nature . . . the Enlightened One, the Awakened One. 

Animals and insects and hungry ghosts (starving people) and all the other realms of existence do not have this opportunity. How can one study and seek truth when you could be eaten by a bigger animal or squashed because your nibbling at dinner could make a person itch? The desperation of seeking food and shelter is a constant among these beings—who are increasing with the massive foreclosures on people's homes as the jobless wander the streets begging for money and being harassed by policeman.

This human realm contains, for some of us, Leisure and Fortune. For some, it is much greater than for others. For myself, having received Social Security Disability since 2001, I have been living just below the poverty level for these years. Yet, I feel that I live better than 99.999% of the world's population. Of course, anything can change in a second, and Leisure and Fortune would no longer be mine.

Years ago, I read Ernest Becker's book, Denial of Death. It was one of those writings that deeply imprinted on my mindstream: that in these United States, we deny the natural process of death, pretend it is not there, try in many cosmetic ways to look younger, to stay immortally young. We are drenched in the cultural media of youth as godly. I, myself, have participated in this.

Becker's gist, if I remember correctly, is that we all want to be "heroes." From my more aged perspective, I would not deny his theory, but would add that it is a function of ego, ego, ego. And that all relational disputes to the many wars and depravities being committed in the world . . . and  all that is between the microcosm and macrocosm are a result of billions of egos ignoring the certainty of death.

So this is one tiny reason that I am nourished by Buddhism. To begin by contemplating one's death, its certainty, the possibility that my next breath could be my last certainly makes life exquisite, because it could be cut short so easily. As Sam Keen (above) writes, "[C]ontemplation of the horror of our death is, paradoxically, the tincture of the sweetness of our mortality." I have the Leisure to contemplate this, and to experience the slow quiet beauty of a mourning dove pacing through green grass for breakfast.

Buddha Shakyamuni's first teaching after his Great Awakening, was the Four Noble Truths. The first is the Truth of Suffering. If we wish to attain the bliss of Great Compassion for all other conscious beings, and the mysterious Wisdom of a direct experience of Emptiness . . . to Awaken as Buddha Shakyamuni did, we must first look into the face of the great suffering around us, the death, the horror, the wars, the broken families. No more sweeping it under the rug. Wow . . . what an irony! (If you want to know more about the Four Noble Truths, you will find a methodical path to true happiness.)

Becker pointed this out more than 37 years ago. Judith Lief proposes something similar in her Making Friends With Death. What an opportunity we have for bliss in the increasing chaos of a dying planet!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An American Epidemic

Confusion is . . . confusing—a time of limbo. Too many options, too many desperate people, too many corrections to be tended to. Which way to go? Where to start? Maybe to escape, run, run, run from it all? Or go mad contemplating why, why, why? What to do? Who is your friend? Who is your enemy? Even they change every day. Even they are as confused. 
Watch movies. Watch TV. As Larry McMurtry writes in his Books (of which he has 400,000), the interrupted narrative abounds, most extremely as seen in commercials on TV. Our minds flick like fruit flies from one sweet to another, unable to be still, to follow one story from beginning to uninterrupted end. Internet clicks tangle behind us as we forget why we began a single search. 
What can we name this unexposed epidemic of mental disease? Does it matter? (I know I always feel better when my doctor gives me a name for my ailment, and sends me off with a pile of pills to distract me from the insight of which he or she has none.)
But let's go further, and for convenience's sake, call it Mental Distraction. Is there any American, rich or poor, who does not have this disease? Some even applaud themselves that they can Multi-task. Listen to the commercials while remembering the developing TV narrative while making dinner while making a quick call on one's cell phone so you don't miss the show. 
It took me 48 years to learn that I had this disease. Another 10 has revealed to me the cure: Do one thing at a time with the whole of my breath, body, mind.
The cacophony does not stop. But I get stronger and more able to do One Thing amidst the hurricane of American society.
What would happen if all of us began a revolution against this disease? All of us boycotted Mental Distraction? What would we lose? What would we gain? What treasure is hidden in the silence?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For Bruce

Breathing Sea

I am nothing
But a breathing sea
Washing in to samsara’s shores
Washing out to the dark and deep
Inhaling a draft of air
Exhaling what turned around
And came back.
What intelligence is this life?
The waves of my inspiration
Move like the sea through this world,
This body,
This suffering shell
That lingers till I wake

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence?

Happy Independence from America!
Today I celebrate my independence from the ugliness
of America’s past
declare my disconnection from its rigid spirit,
my independence from its caustic politics,
and claim my ancestry among those who reveled in the woods,
the mountains,
the lakes,
the stones,
the trees
of this magnificent continent.
I am an American.
Among the Chippewa, the Sioux, the Lakota . . . the Micks
from Ireland.
We are of them.
We honor what they honor,
and so,
we are Americans.